Friday Ethics Distractions, 10/22/21: Foot In Mouth Edition

foot in mouth Xray

Wow! People sure are saying some stupid things lately!

1. A David Manning Lie of the Month from Joe Biden! The David Manning Liar of the Month was a feature of the old Ethics Scoreboard honoring public figures or corporations that made obviously dishonest statements that they had to assume were harmless because nobody could possibly believe them. Thus Joe Biden really told reporters that he hasn’t gotten around to visiting the illegal immigrant mobs at the southern border because he’s just been too darn busy. All year. And, he added, it’s OK because Dr. Biden has been there. He also implied that he didn’t need to go to the border to see the utter mess his immigration policies have wrought because he’s seen the border

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

  • Joe has had time to go back to Delaware and Camp David, but not where there’s a border crisis of his making because he’s too busy. Does anyone believe that?
  • Let’s be fair: the President shouldn’t have to go to the border if he has competent subordinates to do it and accurately explain what’s going on. However, when President Bush chose not to personally visit the Katrina carnage, he was accused by Biden’s party and its news media of not caring, not doing his job, and, by Kanye West, of being a racist. What’s the standard? Bush felt that all he could do was get in the way. No, said Democrats, he had to go there, see what was happening with his own eyes. If that’s the standard, and I don’t think it needs to be, then why isn’t it also the standard for Biden and the border mess?
  • Talk about the cover-up being worse than the crime: Jen Psaki managed to top herself for mendacity and deflection when Fox’s Peter Doocy asked her why the President felt he had seen enough of the border. Why, she said, because he had been to the border in 2008! She really said that! “And nothing has changed since 2008?” Doocy reasonably asked. No! the President’s paid liar huffed. There’s been no immigration reform since then! And Biden knows President Trump has made everything worse by “separating children from parents” and building a “feckless wall” (whatever that means). So he doesn’t have to re-visit the border to know that, and again, he went there in 2008!

2. Shut up, or start a blog. The dim-bulb royals in exile decided that we need to hear their opinions on two issues. Prince Harry pronounced the First Amendment “bonkers”—yes, Harry, that attitude on the part of your relatives is why England doesn’t govern us any more—and his wife, Meghan Markle, received publicity for advocating paid leave for parents. Neither of these two people famous for being famous have done or said anything that should endow their opinions with any more persuasiveness or newsworthiness than the typical dogwalker’s. Harry was born well; Meghan married someone who was born well. It doesn’t matter what they think, or what they say. It’s not news. Continue reading

The Colin Powell Ethics Problem

18hp-alert-powell-jumbo

The ethics news today begins with the death of Colin Powell, who died this morning, according to his family. He deserves the accolades for his service and leadership skills, but in the Ethics Alarms annals, he ranks as an ethics disappointment.

As the obituaries will certainly mention, Powell, the U.S.’s first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of state, would have also been its first black President if he had been willing to run. Shades of Eisenhower, he was courted as a Presidential candidate by both Republicans and Democrats before deciding in 1995 that the challenge would take him away from his family, and acceding to his wife’s objections and fears (she was reportedly afraid he would be assassinated). Thus instead of the bi-partisan, unifying figure of Colin Powell, we got Bush, and then the hollow, racially divisive Barack Obama. And here we are.

Yes, I lay much of what has happened to the nation in the 21st Century at Powell’s feet. The majority of our Presidents sacrificed greatly to seek and accept the office; I do not forgive Powell for passing the buck when he was in a unique position to unify the nation and particularly the races at a turning point in our history. He was called: it is as simple as that. As a good citizen and soldier, when you are called, you have an ethical obligation to answer. Powell did not meet that obligation. America is much the worse for it.

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Morning Ethics Catch-Up, 10/7/2021: Idiots, Crooks, Crazies…And Judges

Ketchup

I have at least 57 posts languishing…

1 Now this is “shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowed theater!” Christopher Perez, 40, is heading to prison for falsely telling his social media followers that in 2020 he had paid someone infected with the Wuhan virus to lick food products at multiple grocery stores in Texas. His motive was to “scare people away from visiting the stores,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

The FBI launched an investigation that ultimately determined the claims were a hoax; Perez did not pay anyone, and nobody licked any groceries at his behest. A jury found him guilty of violating a federal law that criminalizes false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons. He was sentenced this week to 15 months in prison and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. His defense lawyers argue that the sentence is too harsh. Perez shook and trembled and wept in court, shouting, “I am not a terrorist!”

No, you’re an idiot, but you behaved like a terrorist, and under the law, that makes you a terrorist. The sentence is completely appropriate.

2. And while we are on the topic of criminals…We might be turning the ethical corner on looted antiquities from other lands. Nancy Weiner, the owner of a prominent Manhattan noted for its expertise in ancient Asian artifacts, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and possession of stolen property in connection with the trafficking of looted treasures from India and Southeast Asia. She sold items to major museums in Australia and Singapore, and others were auctioned off by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The items ranged in value from $100,000 to $1.5 million, and they were stolen. But Weiner had created fake documents stating that they had all been purchased from private collections. Her rationalization: it was standard practice. “Everybody Does It.” “For decades I conducted business in a market where buying and selling antiquities with vague or even no provenance was the norm,” she said during her appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court. “Obfuscation and silence were accepted responses to questions concerning the source from which an object had been obtained. In short, it was a conspiracy of the willing.” Right. That doesn’t mean you had to join in, but we understand: $$$$$$.

The Times quotes Clinton Howell, a New York-based antiques dealer and president of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America, as stating that the tactics used by Wiener and others in past years “are not pardonable,” but that “the dealer of today is not the dealer of 40 years ago — there’s a very different attitude now.” We shall see. Most professions with unethical cultures just devise new ways to accomplish the same ends.

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Ethics Dunce: President Joe Biden

biden dummy

Great. Now the United States of America has had two Presidents in a row who couldn’t tell an ethics principle from beef stroganoff. This is obviously not a good thing, since our leaders inevitably bolster or short-cicuitour culture’s ethics alarms. In Joe Biden’s case, of course, this should come as no surprise, just as Trump’s ethics void couldn’t have surprised even the previous President’s most fervent supporters. Still, it would be hard to invent a more phosphorescent example of ethics ignorance than Joe’s comments on the harassment of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va)., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, (D-Ariz.) because they refuse to accede to the Democrats’ insane $3.5 trillion infrastructure-plus-socialism wish-list spending scheme, “Build Back Better,’

Last week, several protesters affiliated with the Center for Popular Democracy and other groups showed up in kayaks at the Potomac River dock in Washington, D.C., where Manchin keeps his houseboat. That was relatively mild compared to what Sinema endured over the weekend, when illegal immigration activists from Living United for Change in Arizona confronted Sinema in a building at Arizona State University, eventually following her into the bathroom.

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Saturday Ethics Romps, 10/2/21: Slap-downs, Stolen Art, Strokes, Silliness, Stupid Pet Owner Tricks, And More! [Corrected]

What do you think, hoax or not? Conservative blogs are all treating the video above as classic woke-boob self-own, but I am dubious. How did the video get posted, unless the fanatic vegetarian has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and what are the odds of that? If the video is real, it once again raises the ethics issue of dietary fanatics imposing their obsessions on helpless pets, or worse, infants.

1. The stroke of ethics! On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, launching an epic government ethics breach by his wife Edith and his doctor. They kept the public and government officials in the dark about the President’s true condition: Edith signed official documents, and the doctor was brought into some deliberations. Wilson slowly recovered to some extent, though how capable he was of discharging the duties of his office for the rest of his term, until March of 1921, is a matter of considerable debate and speculation. Despite this debacle, with the nation being led by an invalid figurehead with his inexperienced wife making key decisions, it took the assassination of Jack Kennedy, not long after the previous President, Eisenhower, suffered serious cardiac events during his Presidency decades later to trigger the passage of the 25th Amendment, which lays out the procedure for relieving a disabled POTUS. [Notice of Correction: the original version of this post had the dates wrong. Thanks to valkygrrl for the note!] The 25th, in turn, then spurred an ethics foul of its own, as “the resistance,” Democrats and their allies in the media tried to warp the clear intent of the amendment to justify removing Donald Trump from office, on the grounds that he was “unfit.”

2. When does pundit hysteria cross the line into irresponsible and incompetent journalism? Whatever the line is, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell charged over it with this unhinged screed. When I read something like this, I always wonder how many readers are persuaded by it, and how many are astute enough to conclude, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” Here is how the article begins: “West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin just cooked the planet. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. I mean that literally. Unless Manchin changes his negotiating position dramatically in the near future, he will be remembered as the man who, when the moment of decision came, chose to condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” Even by the low, low standards of climate change apocolyptia, this is inexcusable. No U.S. bill can have substantial impact on the world’s climate by itself, and all but a few of the most extreme and politicized climatologists don’t claim that even the worst case scenarios would “condemn virtually every living creature on Earth to a hellish future of suffering, hardship, and death.” How can anyone trust a writer who spews out stuff like this? How can readers of Rolling Stone take a publication seriously that green-lights it? Is Twitter pulling down the tweets that link to the article? No, of course not. It’s not “misinformation,” because it’s a good lie, aimed at the Greater Good, I guess.

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“The Best People” Strike Again! The Latest Trump Campaign Scandal

Trump lawyers

There is a legitimate “bombshell” story rapidly flashing across the news today. Its speed and prominence—specially on MSNBC and CNN, naturally— is explained by the fact that it can be used to attack and weaken Donald Trump, of whom the Axis remains justly terrified of having back in the White House (as should we all, though for other reasons). That the mainstream news media can barely restrain their glee and that Democrat partisan hacks will over-hype the revelation doesn’t make the story any less revolting. Nor does the fact that it should surprise no one.

The New York Times’ front page story reports…

“Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Donald J. Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. At the event, they laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Mr. Trump….By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue. The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless. “The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Trump.”

I try to limit the number of posts here commenting on obvious unethical conduct unless the conduct is extreme, unusual, or culturally significant. Of course the conduct of the Trump campaign was unethical, but it was also distressingly close to what Trump’s enemies have been saying about the January 6, 2020 riot, and, to make another more apt comparison, what the Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton and Deep State saboteurs within the government, attempted to accomplish with their contrived “Russian collusion” plot. The objective in both cases was to use false information to shake the American public’s faith in their own institutions and systems of government to justify seizing power illicitly.

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Ethics Dunce: Harvard President Larry Bacow

Allow me to stipulate that it’s unethical for a President of Harvard University to make his students stupid. Can we agree on that? In truth, it would be unethical for the President of what is supposed to be America’s most distinguished, selective and eminent institution of higher learning to make anyone stupid, but surely the leader of such an institution has a special obligation to his own students, correct?

Apparently Mr Bacow doesn’t comprehend this. Harvard President Larry Bacow issued a message to all “Members of the Harvard Community” this month. Usually such broadcasts from Olympus involve a particularly earth-shaking event on campus, but this one was standard issue climate change propaganda and fear-mongering:

Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity. . . . We are going to need a little optimism to preserve life on Earth as we know and cherish it today. The last several months have laid at our feet undeniable evidence of the world to come—massive fires that consume entire towns, unprecedented flooding that inundates major urban areas, record heat waves and drought that devastate food supplies and increase water scarcity. Few, if any, parts of the globe are being spared as livelihoods are dashed, lives are lost, and regions are rendered unlivable.

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I’m Not Certain What The Proper Ethics Description Of The State Department Expressing “Concerns” Over The All Male Taliban Government, But “Oh, Shut The Hell Up!” Might Cover It…

In a statement that would be right at home in a satire of U.S. government cretinism like “Lil’ Abner” or “Mars Attacks!,” the Biden State Department expressed “concerns” over the composition of the new interim Afghan government announced by the Taliban. There’s just not sufficient diversity, you see.

The statement noted that the list of names announced by the Taliban earlier in the week“consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women.”

In a related statement, the State Department also expressed its shock and dismay that all the members of the interim government appeared to be Muslims, and no African-Americans were included.

OK, I’m kidding about that. But it would be no more ridiculous than the real statement. Maybe the diabolical strategy of the Biden Administration is to cause the Taliban to perish from laughing so hard their hearts explode, or something, like in Monty Pythons’ “Killer Joke” sketch. If the U.S. government has ever made an official statement that more embarrassing weak and pathetic than this one, I’d like to see it. Did the Hayes administration, after the corrupt deal in 1876 giving Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency in exchange for pulling Federal troops out of the former Confederate states express its concern that former slaves were not being accorded the full rights of American citizens? That would be close.

This is one of the best examples of where ethics estoppel applies, easily surpassing Hillary Clinton condemning sexual harassment and demanding the female accusers of powerful men must be believed. When the U.S. abandoned the people of Afghanistan in a manner that evoked another Python classic moment…

…it forfeited all rights not to be mocked mercilessly if it dared to make any demands or express any “concerns” about what the known radical, brutal Islamists it left in power to do whatever they wanted did, which everyone knew would include treating women like a lesser species.

The Taliban talibanned women from participating in sports yesterday, and the Biden State Department thinks it is going to react to the expressed “concern” that it won’t allow women to participate in its government with anything but hilarity and derision? Who ARE these people? Does diversity and inclusion mean that our State Department has to be run by alumni of Madam Louise’s Home for the Bewildered?

What is this? Could the Biden experts we now have running our foreign policy really be this stupid and tone deaf? Or is it the public the Biden hacks think is so gullible that such hollow virtue signaling will prompt Americans to respond, “Good for us; that’s telling ’em!”? Is it women and feminists this bunch of desperate incompetents have such contempt for?

I don’t understand. What are they doing? What do they think they’re doing? What’s going on here?

The Biden Presidency is now officially an Ethics Train Wreck.

POTUS Empathy Games”Hey, I’ve Got Problems Of My Own!”

Biden weeps

How long will Americans excuse Biden’s dead son sympathy ploy?

As noted by the New York Times, Biden once again evoked his deceased son Beau while addressing the families of Marines killed in the Kabul airport bombing He has been doing this for years. Even if it’s sincere, and it might me, it is a manipulative and unethical ploy. Al Gore was addicted to a similar routine, talking about his dead sister. Althouse nails the problem, writing,

Biden needs to show people that he’s focused on the problems that beset us now and that he can do something to help us. To stand there offering up himself as an example of a person who has suffered doesn’t send a message of focus and competence. It’s a message that can be read as Hey, I’ve got problems of my own. Faced with parents of marines who’d just been killed, he said, essentially, my son died too….You might be tolerant of an old man who came up to you at your child’s funeral and wanted you to know how much he still hurts from the death of his child 6 years ago. It might be difficult, but you’d probably think something like, that poor old guy. But this poor old guy is President of the United States. He asked to be President of the United States, and by some strange twists of fate, he got what he said he wanted. And now everyone’s problems are his. He needs to act like someone who can handle all that. If he’s swallowed up in grief over his lost son — if he’s “haunted,” as the NYT headline has it — perhaps he should resign. …But it’s no wonder he’s lapsed into the misconception that “Beau” is a magic word. The press has propped him up so much — including with this “Invoking Beau” article.

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Why American Presidents Need A Fair News Media To Be Competent, And More Evidence That They Won’t Get One Anytime Soon, If Ever…

fakenews

It’s my own fault. I’ve written so many essays here since 2009 about the disgraceful descent of the news media into partisan propaganda that I can’t find the relevant post I was looking for on my own blog. That would be the one during the Obama administration in which I pointed out that being assured that no reporters and virtually no pundits would have the guts or integrity to criticize Obama’s performance as President had made him lazy, arrogant, and reckless. If you know anything you do will be extolled whether it deserves praise of not, and any mistakes and blunders will be covered up or spun, why be careful, especially if you’re an arrogant narcissistic like Barack? The same principle operated on President Trump, but in reverse (I honestly don’t recall if I noted this, but I noticed it). If a President is certain that whatever he does will be attacked by the news media, there is no reason for him to consider the press in his policy considerations. Summary: bad journalism makes bad Presidents.

Several commentators are finally waking up to this phenomenon now, as they try to find some other than Joe Biden to blame for Joe Biden’s incompetence. I have now read several pieces opining that the President was certain that the press would have his back no matter what happened in Afghanistan.

That was really foolish on Biden’s part (but then…Biden) for two reasons. First, he is not nearly as popular as Obama, and nobody was going to call a reporter “racist” for criticizing him. Second, and more importantly, journalists destroyed their influence and credibility during their four year campaign of fake news and glorified rumors to bring down Donald Trump. Most of the public doesn’t trust the mainstream media—good!—because it is untrustworthy. The days when it could cover a President’s botches effectively have passed.

One would think that this would spur the news media to be more careful about the lies they present to the public as truth, and one would be tragically wrong. Two recent examples from last week demonstrate that no “Oh-oh, we better start practicing honest journalism!” alarms are ringing yet.

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