Category Archives: Humor and Satire

The CNN “Joke About Donald Trump’s Plane Crashing”: Now THAT’S A “Nothingburger”

But it’s nice to know that some people at CNN now know how Billy Bush felt.

A website called FTVLive  obtained video of CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux talking to her crew and her producer before going live on CNN, as they waited for Trump’s  press conference. His plane to yet land.

On the video, a producer can be heard saying “When I do this, it means his plane’s landed’ and later, she seems to be saying, dead-pan”That means his plane’s crashed….just kidding” There is some incomprehensible chatter briefly after that.

Thanks to some websites like Mediaite on a slow news day, this gourmet “nothingburger” was widely and critically circulated. “The crew decided to joke around about a pretty grisly topic,” intoned Mediaite’s  Justin Baragona.

This, believe it or not, prompted CNN to issue an apology! This…

“An unfortunate and inappropriate remark was made by one of our producers off camera yesterday. We have apologized to the Trump transition team, and the Producer has been disciplined.”

Oh, balderdash. There was nothing “unfortunate and inappropriate” about that comment, which was not an expression of hostility to Trump, or anything else but on the job self-mockery. I would make that joke. I have made essentially that joke in various settings. At a surprise party for my mother, for example: “OK, I’ll make this sign when she’s coming up the walk, this sign when she’s at the door, this sign if she trips at the door and falls down the stairs, and this sign if she’s attacked by the neighbor’s dog.”  So what? (It got a big laugh by the way. Would Justin have laughed? I don’t care.) Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire

Comment Of The Day: “Christmas Music Blues”

christmas-hero-h

In addition to honoring his Comment of the Day, I also have to thank texagg04 for his timely comment to last year’s lament here, “Christmas Blues,” about the state of Christmas music as presented by the media. Christmas and holiday music is a useful, if depressing, window into the state of U.S. culture, and if he hasn’t written this commentary, I would have had to. Unfortunately, the tex’s list is res ipsa loquitur, and what it speaks of isn’t good. Christmas, the most ethical of holidays, has been substantially stripped of its ethical foundations by pop culture.

Here is texaggo4’s Comment of the Day on the post “Christmas Music Blues.” For added perspective, you may also want to revue last year’s post, On the Importance Of Christmas To The Culture And Our Nation : An Ethics Alarms Guide.

As of noon today (Monday, 28 Nov), I ran a quick survey of songs played on our local “Christmas” station since the start of last Monday.

95 songs played (though 161 if you separate them by Artist and Version of the song) for a total of 1,893 times.

Here’s the list and how many times they were played (Down on the list are some weird outliers involving the Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice soundtrack. I have no clue how those landed on the station’s playlist archive…but they were there, so I’ve included them): Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, History, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

“Fake News” Ethics: Top Ten Culprits (And Facebook Isn’t One Of Them)

pope-trump

“Fake News” is now a big topic in the news media, as it tries to lead public attention away from legitimate scrutiny of its own bias and incompetence, Facebook, in particular, is the target of this outcry, because the false narrative (should Facebook also be helped responsible for policing false narratives?) that fake news drove Donald Trump’s shocking victory is more palatable than the accurate narrative that Trump was opposed by the only candidate so corrupt, dishonest and inept that he had a chance of winning.

Here’s an interesting study of how Facebook’s algorithms circulates news stories that are made up. The focus on this kind of fake news, however, creates a fake picture of the problem that over-emphasizes hoax stories, many of which, apparently, come from teens in Macedonia exploiting American online gullibility for profit. The problem is that Americans are so ignorant that when some of them read a story that says  the Pope endorsed Donald Trump, they believe it. (Popes don’t endorse presidential candidates, and if anyone conscious thinks about it for five minutes, they should be able to figure out why.) The problem is that 40% of Americans are so lazy that they get their news from social media (and another chunk gets its news from comedy shows.)

The Blame Facebook theory is that because Facebook is foolishly relied upon by inept and gullible citizens to get their information about the world, Facebook has to take on the impossible task of vetting news items.

Facebook, however, is neither trustworthy nor competent to do this. Facebook is biased. Facebook is overrun with social justice warriors whose idea of what Facebook should censor is anything that offends them. For example:

Mark Zuckerberg had to fend off employees during the U.S. presidential campaign who wanted to censor billionaire Donald Trump’s posts due to alleged hate speech. Controversial statements by Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in December forced Mr. Zuckerberg to quash a mini-mutiny of staffers who threatened to quit if they could not delete the candidate’s posts. Sources close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal that some of the comments in question involved a plan to ban Muslim immigrants while the U.S. determines how to best combat the Islamic State group.

Biased selections regarding which news to print while censoring the statements of a Presidential candidate are at least as misleading as fake news.

Presumably Facebook won’t try vet the misleading, dishonest news stories, commentary, links and memes I see flooding Facebook every day, courtesy of my nice, friendly, smart, educated, completely left-biased and right-biased friends who throw absolute garbage out as truth and immediately receive dozens of “Likes” for doing so. These are a lot more visible and just as brain-muddling as any Macedonian fiction. Here’s one example from yesterday, and to the good friend who posted it, I love you dearly but you are gullible and irresponsible:

BREAKING: Trump Announces Plan To ELIMINATE Overtime Pay For 20,000,000 Americans

This is completely false, as one would learn, sort of, by reading the story. Republicans are going to review regulations established in the last 60 days and kill the ones they think are ill-advised, as the law allows Congress to do. One that might be in jeopardy is a recent  rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half overtime to employees who make under roughly $47,000. The article also eventually says that it is House Republicans who say they are targeting the rule. So, to summarize:

  • Trump announced no such plan.
  • Nothing is being eliminated, since nobody has received any extra pay to be eliminated.
  • The alleged regulation cancellation wouldn’t take away overtime pay, as the headline states, but the requirement of paying overtime plus 50%.
  • Killing the rule wouldn’t take away such overtime or ban it; employers would still be free to pay time and a half at their discretion.

In short, the headline is fake news, designed to attack Trump. This kind of fake news isn’t included in the linked study, and for good reason. If we fairly call misleading headlines fake news, Facebook would be charged with vetting the mainstream media constantly. What about real quotes, from supposedly reliable people, that falsely spread rumors or specious accusations? Jim Comey did not violate the Hatch Act, as Harry Reid claimed. Trump is not a Nazi, as Howard Dean just claimed. Those quotes are just as misleading than nonsense about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump, but they are real quotes, from well-respected people who are being irresponsible. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Social Media, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce Collective: The American Music Awards

I can make this uncharacteristically short. Just re-read the post on John Oliver’s nasty full-show, post-election anti-Trump rant, and substitute “American Music Awards.” Also worth reviewing is the list of rationalizations used to justify Oliver, which I posted here, especially since so many of them are also being trotted out to excuse the ambushing of Mile Pence when he dared to exercise his right to enjoy “Hamilton” on Broadway without being personally called out and attacked by the cast.

It can be argued that the American Music Awards’ insults to the duly and lawfully elected POTUS—who has yet to do anything as President— last night were even worse than Oliver’s disrespectful ad hominem barrage. At least Oliver, a skilled satirist, was occasionally amusing. The two AMA hosts from Saturday Night Live were juvenile, desperate and amateurish, counting on their Trump-hating demographic for laughs they didn’t earn. If we ever see a more inept impression of Donald Trump than Jay Pharoah’s, be it in four years or a century, I’ll be shocked. Worst of all, however, was Gigi Hadid’s unfunny, mean and hypocritical imitation of Melania Trump, for the crime of existing.  The principle, just for application to Republican First Ladies, now, is apparently that having an accent  makes you ridiculous and an idiot.

If anyone, anywhere, on a live television show had dared to do such a grotesque mockery of Michelle Obama when she was the incoming First Lady, they would have been tarred a boor, a racist, and a virtual traitor.

I wonder which of the rationalizations will be used to defend Hadid? Whatever they are, the real defense is just this, the same that is being used to defend “Hamilton”: We hate these people, and they don’t deserve to be treated fairly.

Got it.

One clarification: Green Day is a political band, and their decision to shout No Trump / No KKK” during their performance of the catchy and tuneful  “Bang Bang” is as fair as it was predictable…also moronic, but what do you expect? It’s a band.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

Flashback: When Even Herb Block Was Gracious To The President Elect He Hated…

herblock-free-shave

I’ve referred to the cartoon above, from 1968, several times here. “Herblock” was a legendary, hard-line Democrat political cartoonist for the Washington Post, and reflected the styles and sensibilities of the old school in his field. Corporations and bankers were always fat guys in top hats and formal wear, “the poor” were always represented by thin, desperate Depression figures in tattered clothing. Liberals were always caricatured as dignified champions and Republicans were usually drawn to look like criminals and maniacs. Herb Block got more extreme as he aged: when Reagan won in 1980, Block drew a cartoon showing cave dwellers carrying clubs and troglodytes riding Mastodons marching into Washington.

He hated Nixon; all liberals did. He was regarded as just short of  Joe McCarthy by liberals, for he had won his House seat by tarring his opponent as a pro-Commie tool, and saved his tenure as Eisenhower’s VP by the infamous “Checkers” speech, as revolting an example of using sentimental hogwash to cloud a scandal as has ever been tried. The country was a tinderbox in 1968. Colleges had been engulfed in demonstrations, strikes and violence for two years. The Democratic National Convention sparked riots in the streets of Chicago. The Vietnam war was raging. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had both been assassinated. The young idealists who had followed those two liberal icons as well as non-conformist Democratic Senator Gene McCarthy were angry and disillusioned.

In part because of the intemperate “law and order” rhetoric of Nixon’s attack dog running mate, Spiro Agnew, some feared that Nixon’s ascent would mean martial law. Nixon had said that he had a “secret plan” for ending the war, and many thought that plan was to nuke North Vietnam. Ominously, Senator Barry Goldwater, whom Democrats had painted as an atom bomb-happy madman when he had lost to Johnson in the previous election, supported Nixon vigorously. The Republican nominee appealed to the “silent majority” who found the nation’s noisy turn leftward in the Sixties distasteful.

For more than a decade, Block had drawn Nixon as a sinister, menacing presence with an overgrown 5 o’clock shadow. You think I’m exaggerating? Here’s an example… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Revelations From The John Oliver Video Post: What I Have Learned

light-bulb PREFACE: I have just returned from a crazy three day odyssey that had me lecturing on Massachusetts legal ethics in Boston, Washington, D.C. legal ethics in the nation’s capital, and, professional ethics, legal ethics and accounting ethics in Tucson, Arizona. Keeping pace with ethics developments was even more difficult than it usually is when I’m on the road, because I had almost no time in between flights, meetings and various hassles to get to a newspaper, surf the web, or watch TV. And my browser kept crashing.

I wrote the John Oliver post, frankly, as low-hanging fruit. His performance was vile and hateful, barely funny, self-indulgent, and disrespectful in a damaging way, and I didn’t think, and still don’t, that there should be much disagreement on that assessment. I expected the usual “lighten up,” “he was only joking “[he was NOT only joking], and “he has right to free speech” comments, because I always get those any time I point out that a comedian has been unfair and irresponsible. I did not expect,for the post to get more single day traffic than all but one previous Ethics Alarms entry, and so many comments, many of which with troubling social and political significance. I returned to my office to find more comments waiting for moderation than have ever been there at one time, and I apologize for that: I try to get them cleared withing hours if not minutes. Of course, a disproportionate number of them were garbled nonsense, or just invective with no point whatsoever. They didn’t make it.

I also had some tough calls, with repetitious comments that misrepresented the post, made irrelevant or factually mistaken assertions, and also were abusive. I fear that I may have been inconsistent, and perhaps less tolerant than usual, and I’m not referring to the occasional comment I allowed to be published just to show the kind of comments that weren’t being posted. The problem is that this site is a intended to be a colloquy, and poor quality comments just make the threads hard to read, and also undermine the site.

I may have to be more ruthless in moderating comments in the future. I’m thinking about it.

Ethics is all about processing new information. Here are some useful things I learned, or re-learned, from the reaction to the post, “Ethics Dunce: HBO’s John Oliver”….

1. Otherwise reasonable, fair, smart people really do think that Donald Trump justifies unethical conduct and that makes it okay. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: HBO’s John Oliver [UPDATED]

I’m being kind and restrained here. John Oliver is a lot worse than an Ethics Dunce. I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

The video above was Oliver’s final show this season on HBO. It is a full half hour of insults and hate directed at the President-Elect of the United States of America. Some of his insults and ridicule are based on substance, some appear to be  pure bias and stupidity. I almost bailed when Oliver, to the bleating of his all blue, all juvenile audience, implied that being endorsed by the head of the KKK obviously disqualifies someone to be President. Unpack the logic in that contention.

Mostly, however, it is a vicious ad hominem assault on the newly elected President of a level of unfairness and disrespect that has never been directed at any previous President Elect in public. Never, because Americans have always realized that the slate is cleared when someone becomes President, and that the individual inherits the office and the legitimacy of that office as it has been built and maintained by it previous occupants. He (no “he or she” yet, sorry: not my fault) becomes the symbol of the nation, the government and its people, a unique amalgam of prime minister, king and flag in human and civilian form.

That immediate good will, respect for the Presidency, and forgiveness of all that went before has made the transfer of power in the US the marvel of the world, and has kept the nation from violence and division. It is part of our strength as a society. It is part of the election process, and a vital one. John Oliver is intentionally tearing at that process. Continue reading

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