Category Archives: language

“Fuck Donald Trump!”

I was bemused to see a Sunday New York Times front page story described the White House as beset with “scandals.” Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “scandal” applying the prior standards of ethical journalism, and especially if one considered the standards the news media applied to the Obama Administration. For reference purposes, the Obama White House manipulating the facts of the Benghazi raid to avoid accountability was not a scandal, it was a “nothingburger.”  The IRS, an executive agency under the authority of President Obama, deliberately and illegally sabotaging conservative groups to assist in Obama’s re-election wasn’t a scandal,  it was just “rogue employees.” Obama’s Justice Department surveilling a Fox journalist in defiance of the First Amendment wasn’t a scandal, because Fox News.

“Fast and Furious” wasn’t a scandal because the Attorney General who oversaw it said it wasn’t, and besides, the Justice Department was investigating itself, so all was well. Barack Obama repeatedly lying about what was in the health care bill that we had to pass to know what was in it wasn’t a scandal, it was just a slip of the tongue, over and over again. The same slip. Secretly trading five terrorists for a deserter whom the administration first described to the public as a soldier who “served the United States with honor and distinction” wasn’t a scandal because the mainstream media gave it a pass…and so on.

Firing someone a President has the power and right to fire and who was objectively untrustworthy  is not a scandal, nor is it a “crisis,”  no matter how many times reporters say it is. Alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources are not scandals, because they are alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources. A news media—led by two rival national newspapers trying to top each other by publishing breathless accounts of hearsay as if that is ever  evidence of anything—that has openly abandoned all ethical journalism standards and allied itself with a partisan effort to undermine and remove an elected President is a scandal, as well as a crisis. More on that one later.

The other scandal and crisis is the complete abdication of reason, responsibility, civility and sanity by the Democratic Party as it commits to satisfying the blood lust of its most hard-core and irrational supporters, by trying to unseat the President of the United States without the inconvenience of having to win an election. The latest ugly proof that this scandal is real came from California, where the state Democratic Party convention climaxed with outgoing party Chair John Burton extending two middle fingers in the air and leading a cheering throng in the chant,  “Fuck Donald Trump,” as Nancy Pelosi laughed it up in the crowd (as you can see in the photo.) Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: ‘Late Show’ Host Stephen Colbert”

I admire various regular commenters here for different qualities: eloquence, perspective, courage, perseverance, integrity, loyalty, humor. Steve-O-in NJ is a one of the commenters I admire for his honesty, and willingness to subject his own conduct, past and present, to uncompromising analysis and objective criticism. This is one of the most difficult, and most useful, skills in improving our life competency of being positive participants in society’s ethical evolution. It also requires no small amount of humility and courage.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on today’s post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert:

This isn’t a monologue. This isn’t analysis. This isn’t humor. It’s a rant, plain and simple, a bunch of angry thoughts and insults strung together and delivered harshly. I’m a seasoned ranter, to the point where judges, colleagues, and my family have told me I would do better if I dropped out the 20% of what I write that’s trash talking. I usually use it as spice, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pandering to my like-minded friends who will think it’s funny if I refer to Hillary’s appearance or Bernie’s age or whatever.

I have done a lot worse in the past, the lowest point being my storming up the stairs to my office (before I was in public service) angry after a dispute over a parking space with an Indian guy. I got about a minute and a half into a rant about “these fucking dotheads, who the hell invited them over here? They don’t wash, they don’t know how to drive, they stink of curry and onions, they can’t speak the language, they take jobs away from people who were born here, someone needs to call dotbusters on them…” before a horrified colleague yelled “Steven! Listen to what you’re saying!” Continue reading

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Jesse Waters Reminds Us That The Misogynist Culture At Fox News Is A Lot Deeper Than Just Roger Ailes And Bill O’Reilly [UPDATED]

On the Fox News show “The Five,” in the course of a discussion of Ivanka Trump’s appearance at a conference in Berlin where  she was jeered  for defending her father’s record of supporting women, Fox News commentator Jesse Watters made the following comment in reference to the photo above:

I really liked the way she was speaking into that microphone.

Nice.

The degree to which Fox News is definitively exposed as a sexist, oppressive environment catering to over-aged sniggering frat boys where professional women both betray their gender and their self-respect by accepting paychecks to be abused, ogled and hit upon is inversely proportional to the time it takes for the network to fire this toxic asshole.

He made a fellatio reference regarding the President’s daughter, on the air, smiling broadly.  [Absurdly, news organizations are writing that “some commenters” are “interpreting Watters’ comment as a sexual innuendo.” Right: the commentators with eyes, ears, brains and integrity who aren’t paid by Fox News.] Then, after the predictable negative response (although Fox hosts apparently assume that all of their viewers are both mentally challenged and have been frozen in glaciers since 1956). Watters lied brazenly, telling BuzzFeed: “During the break we were commenting on Ivanka’s voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.”

Sure, Jesse. So now we know you think we’re all stupid, and you’re a disgrace to your profession. Continue reading

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Florida State Senator Frank Artiles Resigns After Calling Colleagues “Niggers”…

Obviously, we can’t have that conduct from an elected official. He had to resign; there is no question about that. Artiles was at a members-only club in Tallahassee earlier this week when he was speaking with fellow state Senators Audrey Gibson (D) and Perry Thurston (D), who are both black.  Artiles told them, in the course of an obscenity-rich rant, that “six niggers” had helped get Senate President Joe Negron  elected.

I’ll give Artiles credit for one thing: he didn’t resort the Pazuzu Excuse (“This isn’t who I am, and what I said does not reflect what I think or feel”), which is what almost all public figures in his self-authored predicament do. His resignation letter’s main section reads,

It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness. My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State. I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate. It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth.

Not bad.

What the episode made me ponder is this: what does using “nigger” when speaking about a black man or woman tell us about the speaker? Continue reading

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Reflections On My Final Visit To “The Greatest Show On Earth”

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will bring down its metaphorical Big Top for the final time in May. Its business model simply does not work any more, as an executive of the arena entertainment company that owns it said recently—especially since the circus capitulated to animal rights activists and fired its performing elephants. (Ticket sales dropped by almost a third.) This was an iconic cultural institution vanishing, so I had to say farewell, and did so last weekend, when the circus came to Washington, D.C. for the final time.

Observations:

1. It is still an entertaining show, even though  the Ringling brothers would never have recognized it as a circus. Several of the acts were worth the ticket price (in our cases, about 75 bucks) all by themselves.

2. The Verizon Center was about a third filled for the final show of the legendary Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. The Center itself was sparsely staffed; it took 20 minutes in line to buy popcorn. Americans, as a group, don’t care about history, culture and significant changes in it landscape any more. The circus and its components gave us imagery, lore, metaphors—“walking a tight rope,” “three ring circus,” (this one is now a two-and-a half ring circus at best), “ringmaster,” “dog and pony show,” “the big tent,” “side-shows,” “clown act,” —and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” The nation is a little poorer and less colorful without it.

3. The public also increasingly sees little value in the mass audience experience. Live entertainment, especially family friendly varieties, were traditionally seen as an important and natural way to strengthen community ties, by bonding disparate members of society through a shared experience involving witnessing something transforming and memorable.

4. Assisting in the death of this experience is the trend of making sure all arena and stadium events  are filled with loud, never-ending, pounding electronic music that would make Phil Specter grab ear plugs. Once,  the circus’s dramatic  music consisted of drum rolls, bands and soft calliopes. If you watch the Cecil B. DeMille movie “The Greatest Show On Earth,” you will see spectators talking to each other during the acts, or shouting out to performers. Either is virtually impossible now. Conversation consists of screaming a few words repeatedly until your companion nods. This continues the cultural trend of making meaningful interaction with fellow human beings passe. How can this possibly be a healthy development for society?

I did see a lot of people texting….maybe to those sitting next to them.

5. Almost no venders were walking among the seated. A single snow cone from one of these cost $12.00.

6. This is how unintended cultural pollution takes place. The conglomerate that owns the circus also owns various ice shows, like Disney on Ice. To cut costs, it decided to employ performers from the ice shows in the circus too, meaning that instead of a sawdust path around the rings, the track around the performing areas are ice. Everyone is on skates half the time. It isn’t a bad effect: it’s faster than the old-style parades. But now the circus is an ice show. Continue reading

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20 Ethics Observations On The President’s Charge That Obama Tapped His Phones

In the first week of March, in the midst of the over-blown flap regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador, President Trump issued arguably his most explosive  tweet yet:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.

Later, he  tweeted,

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

It has been more than a week, and we know only a little more about what prompted this extraordinary accusation than we did then. However, there are some relevant ethics point to be made. Here we go…

1.  It is irresponsible and unpresidential to issue tweets like this. It is also unfair. If the Trump administration wants to make a formal complaint, charge or indictment, or announce an investigation, it should be made through proper channels, not social media. That stipulated, he will not stop doing this, and at some point we will have to accept it. Is this how Presidents communicate? It is now.

2. Thus the tweet is unethical even if it is true. However, the fact that it is unethical, or that Trump the Liar sent it, doesn’t mean it is untrue. An astounding number of pundits and journalists have made exactly that assumption, proving their bias against the President and their knee-jerk defensiveness regarding former President Obama.

3. The tweet cannot be called a “lie,” and anyone who does call it a lie based on what is known is revealing their confirmation bias.

4. One more point about the tweet itself: the fact that it has a typo and the level of articulation of the average 9th grader is itself an ethics breach. The President should not sanctify carelessness, or seem to embrace it. He is a role model.  Nor should a significant charge be written in haste, as this obviously was.

5. There seems to be a significant possibility that the President was trolling. Having had enough of the months long, absolutely evidence-free news media and Democrat innuendos that his campaign was coordinating election tampering with the Russians, he may have decided to make a sensational, unsubstantiated charge of his own to get the Russian hacking speculation off the front pages. If it was trolling, it was excellent trolling. The McCarthyism purveyors  deserved it; the accusation was a deft tit-for-tat,  one of the President’s favorite rationalizations.

6. As an example of what Trump has been and is being subjected to, we have Rep. Keith Ellison, vice-chair of the DNC.  He told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day last week,”

“This is stunning when you think about it. Far worse than Watergate, when you believe a hostile foreign power engaged in an attempt, and with the collusion of the sitting administration to manipulate an election.”

By sheerest moral luck, Camerota that day was feeling ethical, so she actually corrected a Trump-basher from her own party, said, “Well you don’t know that,” and pointed out that there is no evidence of collusion.

“I’m not saying there was collusion, I’m saying those meetings indicate that there could be, and I think that needs to be investigated,” Ellison then said, immediately after saying there was collusion.

These are awful, vicious, conscience- free people who subcribe to total political war and the ends justify the means. They are trying to bring down an elected government without winning an election. Even that does not justify treating them unethically, BUT… Continue reading

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