Category Archives: Leadership

Trump’s Critics And The “Julie Principle” Follow-Up: And If You Don’t Pounce On Every Silly Trump Tweet Like It Was A Threat To The Constitution, You Won’t Be As Likely To Have THIS Happen…

doh-dohFrom PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN)

“President-elect Donald Trump is coming under fire that there should be “consequences” for flag burners, but in 2005, Hillary Clinton backed a bill that would have criminalized burning the American flag.

While she was senator of New York, Clinton co-sponsored the Flag Protection Act of 2005, which would have outlawed “destroying or damaging a U.S. flag with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace.”

You see, another benefit of practicing”The Julie Principle” is that it provides some protection from confirmation bias, which, as Ethics Alarms keeps telling you, makes you stupid, and cognitive dissonance, which warps your perception. Let me return to another section of the original “Julie Principle” post: Continue reading

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Trump, His Critics, And The Julie Principle

We return now to “The Julie Principle,” an ethics concept I introduced three and a half  years ago. “The Julie Principle lies at the center of tolerance in its most productive sense. It also will keep you from going crazy “ was how the post was introduced. Here is the guts of it.

When a characteristic or a behavior pattern appears to be hard-wired into someone, it makes no sense to keep complaining about it. You either resolve to tolerate it ( and accept responsibility for the consequences of doing so), or decide that it is too much to endure, meaning that the relationship has to end.  “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…” [ Note: this is the most famous lyric in the second most famous song in “Showboat,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man o’ Mine,” sung by the tragic, abused mulatto Julie.]

The Julie Principle comes in handy in resolving many ethical dilemmas. In making an ethical analysis requiring balancing, the illusion, when it is an illusion, that a major part of the equation can be removed by just a little more advocacy, education or pressure permanently warps the process. We have been debating same-sex marriage here in several threads, and the illusion that gays can change their orientation, that it is a choice rather than part of their essence, is a massive impediment to reaching a rational accord. The Julie Principle applies. Do we want gay Americans to be part, and feel like a part, of the American fabric, or do we want to make what is essential to their being a deal-breaker? We’re the ones with the choice, not them.

I think the Julie Principle makes the choice obvious. It makes the choice obvious in the immigration debate as well. All those illegals are here. They have ties to family, the economy and the community: they aren’t leaving. “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…” Does it make sense to keep punishing million of people for what they can’t change, or do we accept them for the good they can do from this point on? Sure, it would be preferable if we hadn’t allowed so many to walk across our boarders…But it’s too late to do anything about that. 

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…”

The challenge in executing the Julie Principle is how you accept your bird or fish without letting that act corrupt your own values, or stop you from continuing to advocate and fight for them.

The left-wing media and still-bitter Democrats and progressives really need to learn the Julie Principle regarding Donald Trump, and fast. It might be too late to stop them from going crazy, but if they don’t learn it, they will drive everyone else crazy, and still accomplish nothing. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz Follow-Up: Signature Significance And Kind Words For Castro

Look at the good side!

Look at the good side!

Democrats and progressives have been “otherizing” the President Elect by incessantly referring to the fear he inspires in so many, including young children. This, as I hope to explore in another post, is part of a wide ranging  and dangerous de-legitimizing strategy, as wrong as calling Barack Obama by his middle name, or claiming that he isn’t a citizen. In the weekend’s Ethics Quiz, I answered answer to the question of whether Trump’s unequivocal condemnation of Fidel Castro in response to his death was ethical in the affirmative, and I concludeed with this:

Rather than using the occasion to find another excuse to attack Trump, Democrats should think about why it is that so many Castro admirers are in their ranks.

Now let me be more pointed: everyone surveying that national political scene should be concerned and alarmed that so many Castro admirers and apologists are in the ranks or progressives and Democrats….especially progressive and Democrats.  It is signature significance. No one who is committed to liberty, the Constitution, the democratic process and basic principles of autonomy, respect, fairness and free speech can seriously praise Castro.  The ominous turn of the increasingly radicalized Left in the United States to an “ends justify the means,” totalitarian methodology-endorsing philosophy is something to watch carefully.  You want genuine fear? I am genuinely frightened of liberals who say that Castro “did some good things” on the way to shrugging off how he did those things, and how many lives it cost.

A good friend of mine and a nice, smart, man who is also an extreme liberal wrote on his Facebook page,

RIP, Fidel. A huge figure of the 20th century, one with faults and virtues. Believed his island belonged to all its people and not just the rich. A better man than the one who was just elected…

Res ipsa loquitur. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz: Trump’s Tweet On Fidel’s Demise

castro-tweet-trump

We are taught to speak only good of the dead in the immediate aftermath of one’s demise, and especially in the world of international diplomacy, restraint, respect and the Golden Rule are the accepted standards of ethical conduct on such occasions

This being the case, what is the right ethical diagnosis of President Elect Donald Trump’s tweet above about the announcement of Fidel Castro’s death, which includes an explanation point widely interpreted to suggest “GOOD!” of “Yippee!” ? Trump’s subsequent statement removed all doubt that he was not sorry to see Fidel go to that big sugar cane plantation in the sky, or better yet, well, you know:

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,’ Mr Trump’s statement reads. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. “While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban-Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

Contrast that with President Obama’s equivocal statement, which said in part,

“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

Then there was former President Jimmy Carter, who said,

“Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people on the death of Fidel Castro. We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country. We wish the Cuban citizens peace and prosperity in the years ahead.”

Hmmmm!

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for this Thanksgiving Day weekend:

Were Trump’s tweet and statement about Castro responsible, prudent and ethical?

I think so, and I’m surprised at my own response. I suppose I am tired of seeing and hearing public figures lie when everyone knows they are lying, and if Carter and Obama really don’t think Castro was a brutal, murderous dictator whose departure is a blessing to all, then the Democratic Party is in even worse shape than I thought it was.

I have a hard Left friend who actually expressed praise for Castro’s legacy today on Facebook. When a figure who is objectively and factually as bad as Castro was, our leaders should not hesitate to be frank and direct. Obama’s non-commital History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him” is cowardly and evasive. Yes, and if history judges that Fidel’s ends justified his means, then civilization is doomed. Carter’s statement is even worse. “His love of his country”—that’s mitigation for oppression and murder, eh, Jimmy? If love of country your standard, you and Rosalyne must love Hitler.

Trump’s excessive candor and rogue mouth obviously are going to do a lot of damage in the next four years, just as they did during the campaign. Nonetheless, I don’t see anything unethical about calling a murderous dictator when he was, whether it’s on the day of his death or ten years later. This is one time when Trump’s refusal to be politically correct cuts through crap that should be cut through. As Edgar says at the end of “King Lear,”

“We should speak what we feel, not what we ought to say,”

…at least when bastards like Castro die.

Rather than using the occasion to find another excuse to attack Trump, Democrats should think about why it is that so many Castro admirers are in their ranks.

 

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Holiday Ethics Assigment: Quick! Watch These 25 Great Old Ethics Movies Again Before You Go Bonkers Too!

movie-theater

I am compiling a new list of great ethics movies to help those troubled by the recently completed Presidential campaign, the election and its aftermath. I haven’t decided whether to reveal it piecemeal, or collectively as I have before, but I do need to begin by presenting the previous list of 25, actually the combination of several previous posts. Ethics films I have covered individually since those lists debuted, like Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, will eventually be added.

For now, here’s the top 25. Don’t pay attention to the order.

1Spartacus (196o)

The raw history is inspiring enough: an escaped gladiator led an army of slaves to multiple victories over the Roman legions in one of the greatest underdog triumphs ever recorded. Stanley Kubrick’s sword-and-sandal classic has many inspiring sequences, none more so than the moment when Spartacus’s defeated army chooses death rather than to allow him to identify himself to their Roman captors (“I am Spartacus!”)

Ethical issues highlighted: Liberty, slavery, sacrifice, trust, politics, courage, determination, the duty to resist abusive power, revolution, love, loyalty.

Favorite quote: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” [Spartacus (Kirk Douglas)]

2.  Hoosiers (1986)

“Hoosiers” is loosely based on true story, but its strength is the way it combines classic sports movie clichés—the win-at-all-costs coach down on his luck, the remote superstar, over-achieving team—into a powerful lesson: it isn’t the final victory that matters most, but the journey to achieving it.

Ethical issues highlighted: Forgiveness, generosity, leadership, kindness, courage, loyalty, diligence, redemption.

Favorite quote: “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” [ Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)]

3. Babe (1995)

A wonderful movie about the virtues of being nice, the greatest civility film of all time. Second place: “Harvey.”

Ethical issues highlighted: Civility, kindness, reciprocity, loyalty, courage, love, friendship, bigotry, bias.

Favorite quote: “Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise…The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise”  The Narrator (Roscoe Lee Browne) Continue reading

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Trump, Master Of Rationalizations, Scores A Perfect #4 AND A Perfect #5!

Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry attends a news conference on the steps of Washington's city hall Monday, July 6, 2009. At the news conference Barry's attorney Frederick Cooke said Barry vehemently denies the allegation by Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, and that he's confident the stalking charge will be dropped. Barry, 73, stood behind Cooke but said nothing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Somewhere, Marion Berry is smiling…

This is juuuust the beginning…

I have noted before that our President Elect never expresses any ethical awareness, and uses rationalizations exclusively to explain and justify his conduct. This is typical of say, 12-year-olds, but is less common among professionals in responsible positions.

Trump just authored a classic example, following the expression of concerns about his conflicts of interest, which are massive, unavoidable, and which should have been addressed seriously long ago, like in a Presidential debate, and at length. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton and various journalists felt it would be more helpful to their cause to spend time talking about what Trump had said about an over-weight Miss Universe and in a private conversation with Billy Bush. How did that work out for you, guys?

Now various lawyers and ethics experts are saying that Trump “must” sell off his business holdings because his company’s myriad business entanglements will cast many White House decisions under a cloud. The President Elect has a neat answer for them, to wit:

“The law’s totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

— Donald Trump, interview with the New York Times, Nov. 22, 2016

Bravo! This is a perfect expression of Ethics Alarms Rationalizations #4, and #5

4. Marion Barry’s Misdirection, or “If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”

The late D.C. Mayor and lovable rogue Marion Barry earned himself a place in the Ethics Distortion Hall of Fame with his defense of his giving his blatantly unqualified girlfriend a high-paying job with the DC government. Barry declared that since there was no law against using the public payroll as his own private gift service, there was nothing unethical about it. Once the law was passed (because of him), he then agreed that what he did would be wrong the next time he did it.

Ethics is far broader than law, which is a system of behavior enforced by the state with penalties for violations. Ethics is good conduct as determined by the values and customs of society. Professions promulgate codes of ethics precisely because the law cannot proscribe all inappropriate or harmful behavior. Much that is unethical is not illegal. Lying. Betrayal. Nepotism. Many other kinds of behavior as well, but that is just the factual error in the this rationalization.

The greater problem with it is that it omits the concept of ethics at all.  Ethical conduct is self-motivated, based on the individual’s values and the internalized desire to do the right thing. Barry’s construct assumes that people only behave ethically if there is a tangible, state-enforced penalty for not doing so, and that not incurring a penalty (that is, not breaking the law) is, by definition, ethical.

Nonsense, of course. It is wrong to intentionally muddle the ethical consciousness of the public, and Barry’s statement simply reinforces a misunderstanding of right and wrong.

Continue reading

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For Once, To “Move On” Concerning Clinton Scandals Is The Right Thing To Do

No.

No.

Ethics Alarms didn’t want to make heads explode all over American by designating the President Elect an Ethics Hero, for that would go too far. Still, his statement to the New York Times that he won’t recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton, adding that she has already “suffered greatly,” is a welcome one as well as the ethical course to take.

The news, shocking to some of Trump’s more vindictive followers and also to those who, for some reason, believed that anything Trump has said, promised, pledged or mused about isn’t subject to reversal at any time, was revealed in tweets from New York Times reporters Mike Grynbaum and Maggie Haberman, who attended a meeting between the President-elect and reporters and editors at the paper. The reporters tweets were confirmed by Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.

One of the Clintons’ prime strategies when they are caught in misconduct is to deny, deny, deny while delaying and stalling, throwing up smoke, confusing the issues, boring most of the public stiff and making their accusers seem like Inspector Javert from “Les Miserables.” Then, before there is any resolution and the investigations seem as stale as last year’s Halloween candy, the Clinton Corrupted, on cue, begin saying that it’s time to “move on, ” which translates into, “Let the Clinton (one, the other, or both) get away with it.” The perpetually juvenile far-left activist group Move-On.Org was launched by that mantra during Bill Clinton’s impeachment travails.

It is an infuriating tactic since it has worked so often, but for once, the argument dovetails with ethics. The United States political process, much as hyper-partisans would enjoy it to be otherwise, must not descend into the ugly practices of lesser nations, where leaders and politicians who fall out of power face show trials, imprisonment and even execution. If there has ever been an incoming President who might be expected to push us in that undemocratic and divisive direction it is Trump, who appears to be historically ignorant and has only rudimentary ethical instincts at best. During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to re-open investigations of  Clinton’s possible security breaches and possible influence peddling while at State. He happily joined his throngs as they chanted “lock her up!,” and in one debate  muttered to Hillary that if he were President, “you’d be in jail.” Continue reading

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