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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/19: Fleeing The US, Exploiting The Golden Globes, Spinning The Shutdown, And More

Best wishes for an ethical week ahead!

1. They just can’t help themselves. Golden Globe hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh went out of their way before the show to sell the idea that last night’s Golden Globes Awards would avoid political grandstanding, but sure enough, there was Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical winner Christian Bale, who plays Dick Cheney in “Vice,” accepting his honor by saying that he was “cornering the market on charisma-free a—holes … What do we think, Mitch McConnell next?” [Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!]

If I were the producer or on the Golden Globes board, I’d ban him from future ceremonies. Bale, who is probably the best actor still acting now that Daniel Day-Lewis has retired, was just virtue-signaling to the left-biased Hollywood crowd, and willing to annoy a lot of his audience to do it. There’s nothing productive or profound about calling two public servants, one of them retired, “a-holes” on national television; it’s just uncivil and rude. Not only that, but Bale is a genuine hypocrite: Less than a month ago, the actor spoke glowingly about Cheney, telling Fox News, “He was a wonderful family man — he’s a great dad, he’s an avid reader, he has a brain like a vice and he constantly reads history.” It sounds to me like Bale cuts his opinions and words to fit the audience he’s addressing.

2.  From the Ethics Alarms “How Dare You Make Me Act Like A Jackass?” Files: The mainstream media has been using a Gallup poll showing that 16% of Americans polled say they want to leave the country as an indictment of President Trump. The spin is based on the narrative that anything negative is Trump’s fault, and anything positive that occurs is dumb luck, a late result of Barack Obama’s brilliance, or because Trump’s real objectives were foiled. In truth, the uptick in citizens saying they want to leave is a direct result of non-stop anti-American propaganda, in the schools, the colleges, in the news media, and from activists who pretend that the nation is an oppressive, autocratic, Fascist Hell where every woman is at risk of being raped, white supremacy is rampant, and African Americans are hunted down and shot on the streets for “living while black.” This state of mind has been seeded and cultivated entirely by “the resistance” and the ideologues who created it.

As several others have pointed out, Gallup’s summary that “a record number of Americans want to leave the U.S.” is fake news, and in multiple ways. There is no “number,” just a percentage of the group Gallup polled. That percentage, moreover, represents the alleged pollees who say they want to leave the U.S., not the ones who really want to, which would be demonstrated by some proactive steps to accomplish that objective. Women, under-30s and the poorest Americans make up the bulk of the 6% jump from the 10% of Americans who said they wanted to flee while Obama was President. I  attribute the result to 1) the despicable, constant fear-mongering by Democrats, as in the ridiculous claims that Brett Kavanaugh would send the nation’s women into “A Handmaiden’s Tale”-style sexual slavery; 2) the general civic ignorance of millennials, too many of whom who get their knowledge of national affairs from Stephen Colbert and social media, and who have been conditioned to think that trading liberty for nanny state socialism would be a rational trade;  3) the false narrative, pushed by the news media,  that President Trump is a racist; and 4) the fact that it is traditionally the progressives who threaten to leave the country whenever the Democrats aren’t in power, not conservatives when their star is waning. (Why is that?)

Ethical and civically literate Americans recognize that they are responsible for changing their nation for the better, whatever “better” is. Leaving is a cowardly and unpatriotic act, and my position is that if someone thinks losing an election is justification to leave for foreign shores, the U.S., its society and its politics are better off without them.

Bye!

Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Arby’s!

Why don’t businesses do this kind of thing all the time?

A 97-year-old  World War II veteran who calls himself “Mr. Doug” has been eating lunch, by himself, at an Arby’s in Chandler, Arizona almost every day.

An employee asked him why he was such a regular. The veteran told him that he has no family, and that he always has the same thing at the fast food restaurant because it is one of the rare meals that doesn’t upset his stomach.

The Arby’s staff took a collection and bought Mr. Doug a $200 gift card, and even gave him their phone numbers, so if he can’t get to Arby’s they will deliver lunch to him. Then corporate headquarters learned about the staff’s kindness, and went one better: It  announced that Mr. Doug could eat at Arby’s free of charge for the rest of his life.

My WWII vet Dad would have been 97 this year. Unfortunately, he hated Arby’s.

A suggested modified slogan for the company, which I’m sure Ving Rhames could deliver with gusto:

“Arby’s! We have THE ETHICS!”

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Ethics Reflections, Post Christmas, 12/26/2018: Quotes, Dummies, Movies And Scams

Still Merry Christmas.

1. Quotation ethics. The church next door has a message out front this week that says, “The time is right to always do the right thing”—Martin Luther King.

That’s not the quote. Misquotes get into the public lexicon that way; it’s unethical to go around posting sloppy versions of quotes on message boards. Stated like that, the quote is a tautology: if you always do the right thing, of course the time is right to do what you do anyway. Not that King’s actual quote is one of his best. The actual quote—“The time is always right to  do the right thing” is pretty fatuous, and incorporates  Rationalization #60. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do” by assuming that what is the right thing to do is intrinsically obvious. Sometimes the right thing is to wait. Sometimes the right thing is yo be sure what you think is the right thing really is. King was dangerously arming ideologues and the self-righteous who think they are the ultimate arbiters of what is “right.”

Davey Crockett’s quote is better: “Be sure you are right, and then go ahead.”

2. Is it political correctness to point out that Jeff Dunham’s act is racist? After being told by my wife that I couldn’t watch any more holiday movies or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, my channel surfing today took me to Comedy Central and Christmas-themed performance by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. Dunham’s low-brow act makes Charlie McCarthy seem like Oscar Wilde, and I cannot watch him and his howling audiences without thinking about this scene in “Blazing Saddles”…

He began his set with “Walter,” his bitter old curmudgeon dummy, whose face is perpetually scowling and whose arms are crossed in disgust with the world. To my amazement, Walter launched into an extended section ridiculing black speech, black slang, hip-hop, Kwanza and the Black Entertainment Network, and the huge, apparently all-white mid-West audience roared with laughter. How ugly and disturbing. These were jokes of denigration, about people who weren’t there. This was never anything but hate-mongering humor, not in 1948, 1958, 1968, or now. It’s an audience laughing at other people for simply being different than they are.

I kn ow, I know: how is this different from what Stephen Colbert, or Bill Maher, or Samantha Bee does in every performance? It isn’t different, really: it’s just that treating white people who aren’t “woke” as the “other” is considered acceptable, while doing this to minorities, gays or women is considered bigotry, hateful, and cowardly.

3. It annoys me that I should even have to say this, but calling “Die Hard” a Christmas movie is nothing but a cynical way to diminish Christmas and the spirit of kindness and love that the holidays are supposed to foster in order to promote future holiday marathons of a violent action movie. Celebrating the film’s 30 Anniversary, some Grinch at 20th Century Fox decided that it would be cute to promote Bruce Willis’s break-out film as “The Greatest Christmas Story” ever told, according to 20th Century Fox. Right: the movie ends with a strained family brought back together, takes place during a Christmas party, and Bruce’s wife is named “Holly.” It also involves the killing of  more than twenty people, including police,l FBI agents, and innocent victims in addition to the bad guys the hero smokes.

And I like “Die Hard.” I even like two of its four vastly inferior sequels. Continue reading

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Ridiculous, Fanatic And Incompetent Is No Way To Go Through Life, PETA

I wrestled with posting this; mocking the People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals is too easy, and it’s getting easier. On the other hand, it’s too easy, and easy can be fun. Plus there is a lesson worth emphasizing; even if your organization is fanatic, full of wackos, and without any sense of proportion or common sense, it it accepts contributions, you have an ethical obligation a) not to be flagrantly incompetent, and b) not to make donor feel like they need to wear bags over their heads, or wish they had just chucked their money into a swamp.

And I am always looking for opportunities to honor my favorite line from “Animal House.”

Here is PETA’s latest auto-fiasco: It tweeted out…

Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations…”

Yes, the theory is that using animal imagery, references and metaphors is somehow unethical.  There’s no explaining this logically; it makes no sense. Acknowledging the actual characteristics of animals in discourse or referring to them in metaphors advances the critical task of human communication, and does no conceivable harm to the animals involved whatsoever. Nor does it pollute human respect for goats to say, “That got my goat.” Anyway, here is PETA’s best effort—they got all their most creative, clever minds together—at retooling some common phrases for vegan sensibilities, I presume, because it would be irresponsible for a group that seeks to persuade to put forth a product created by its worst and dimmest rather than  it’s best and brightest:

Yeah, I’m sure these will catch on.Was it “Visit mommy or daddy’s office day” and PETA let the kids handle the job? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/18: Big Lies, Bad Precedents, And Good Bias (Apparently: I Guess I Just Don’t Understand)

Good Morning!

(You can tell I’m starting to feel better, because the morning warm-up is actually appearing before noon… I had an unavoidable early morning conference call, and I’m hoping to get the post up before I crash.)

1. Regarding the hypothetical Hillary pardon briefly discussed in the previous post…An esteemed commenter corrected me in the comment thread when I stated incorrectly that the object of a Presidential pardon couldn’t refuse the gift: the 1915 SCOTUS case of Burdick v. US says otherwise. The case is one more example of how a bad decision can become settled law. From the New York Times:

The story behind the 1915 case is little known but very relevant today. It involved the city editor of The New York Tribune, George Burdick, who…flatly refused to testify before a federal grand jury about his sources for an article on fraud in the United States Custom House in New York. He said he might incriminate himself in his testimony. The federal prosecutor saw a quick pardon as the answer to this problem, and President Woodrow Wilson agreed.

Wilson gave Burdick “a full and unconditional pardon for all offenses against the United States” he might have committed in connection with the article and for any other matter the grand jury might ask him about. That would seem to have let Burdick off the hook, but he still didn’t want to testify. He refused to accept the pardon, and was locked up for contempt.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which held that Burdick was within his rights and ordered him discharged. In doing so, the court embraced Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1833 definition of a pardon as “a private, though official” act of grace whose validity depended on its acceptance: “It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Marshall’s pronouncements, in United States v. Wilson, were pure dicta — nonbinding observations — but the courts treated them as gospel. In the Burdick case, the court likewise held that “a pardon, to be effective, must be accepted” because it “carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.” This made Marshall’s view the law of the land.

The problem is that both Marshall’s definition and the court’s 1915 reinforcement of it were bad history and tortured logic. Acceptance of a pardon should not be a confession of guilt, especially if there is documentation of innocence. The “imputation of guilt” would disappear if acceptance of a pardon were not required. If one has no choice but to take a pardon, it would become like a grant of immunity, and thus would be noncommittal.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives a person the prerogative to turn down a pardon, and strong support in the Constitutional debates for the president’s having an unfettered power to grant one. “The benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 74. Even more to the point, the framers turned down an effort to limit the power to pardons “after conviction” because they wanted to make it useful for law enforcement. That is, of course, exactly what President Wilson tried, and was told he couldn’t do, in the Burdick case.

So Hillary could turn down a Presidential pardon for her crimes related to flouting the law regarding classified material.

2. Run, Kamala, run! One of the awful alternatives the Democrats have as they paint themselves into the requirement of nominating a woman as their candidate in 2020, California Senator Kamala Harris, highlighted her awfulness while questioning Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as he appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee as it weighed his nomination to become permanent ICE director. She deliberately compared ICE to the KKK in this exchange:

Vitiello: “The Klan was what we could call today a domestic terrorist group.”

 Harris: “Why? Why would we call them a domestic terrorist group?”

Vitiello: “Because they tried to use fear and force to change the political environment.”

Harris: “And what was the motivation for the use of fear and force?”

Vitiello: “It was based on race and ethnicity.”

Harris: “Right. And are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the law and do you see any parallels?”

There are no parallels between the KKK and ICE, and Harris’s assertion that “many” see such parallels is one more example on the growing list of Big Lies being wielded by the Left to spread fear and misinformation. I heard Geraldo Rivera say this morning that Harris was “too smart” to make such a comparison, which he characterized as slander. Obviously she is not too smart to make the comparison, since she made it. She’s too smart to believe that the comparison is fair, but unethical and irresponsible enough to suggest it anyway.

3. Here’s one reason why I don’t have more Ethics Heroes. I’ve already written twice about the deteriorating saga of the kind homeless veteran  and the woman he helped who raised money to let him turn his life around.. It began as a heartwarming Ethics Hero saga, then rotted into a tale of greed, ingratitude, betrayal and exploitation. By August of last year, this was the suddenly depressing story…

Johnny is back living under a bridge, panhandling for change. GoFundMe is investigating whether McClure and her live-in boyfriend absconded with most of the donations, which eventually amounted to about $400,000. Johnny claims that his once grateful benefactor and friend have been spending the money that was supposed to ensure, in Kate’s memorable words, that “his life can get back to being normal….”

Now the story is worse still:

The New Jersey couple who became famous for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a homeless man after he helped with their disabled car — as did the homeless man himself — will all face charges for allegedly providing a false story in order to raise money for themselves, a source familiar with the case told NBC10. Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. will face charges including conspiracy and theft by deception, according to the source. A complaint obtained by NBC10 alleges that the three conspired with one another to make up a false story in order to raise more than $400,000.

Sigh.

4. Now that’s acceptable gender bias discrimination. Somehow. I guess. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that a congresswoman besides Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should be the House Speaker.  “There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with,” Ryan told reporters, before listing people such as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as potential candidates, The New York Times reported. I dare anyone to try to explain what one’s sex organs and chromosomes has to do with being a capable Speaker of the House. Bias not only makes you stupid, it makes you ridiculous and hypocritical. As for Marcia Fudge: oh, GOOOOOD choice there, Tim!

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/2/18: Democratic Dinners, TV Weatherman Edicts, Truth As Racism, And More

Good Morning!

I see that the October jobs report this morning is spectacularly good, with 250,000 jobs added. It is amazing that so many Americans are going to vote against Republicans in the midst of such a strong economic surge following the end of Obama’s recovery-strangling policies. The lesson for future leaders, perhaps, is that the public cares more about a President constantly acting like an asshole than they do about what he accomplishes. From an ethics point of view, I would see that as a positive development, if I didn’t strongly suspect that the real reasons for apparent votes against self-interest are 1) that the news media isn’t reporting the economic news with anything like the enthusiasm it would if this were a Democratic administration, 2) that people really believe the ridiculous spin that this is somehow an Obama recovery, and 3) that so many young Americans have been indoctrinated into socialism that even as Venezuela crumbles, they are still buying the fantasy.

1. Next try: The Oprah-Jennifer Lawrence Dinner. This is pretty funny. Following the lead of other Democratic state organizations, The New Hampshire Democrats insulted the party’s two founders, Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, also two of the nation’s greatest leaders, by removing their names from the annual party dinner.  For 2017, the event was renamed…wait for it!…the Kennedy-Clinton Dinner! Yup, two serial sexual assaulting misogynists, assuming it’s Jack and not Teddy being honored, in which case it’s a negligent killer, for the Party of Women. What a brilliant choice! How can anyone not vote for a party capable of a decision like that? But for some reason, as the Harvey Weinstein Train Wreck rolled along, the new name came under criticism. Who could have foreseen that? So the dinner has been renamed again; now it’s called the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, after the cruelly-treated wife of another Democratic icon.

2. Who makes these rules? Why, Al Roker, that’s who! After he was called a hypocrite on social media for dressing up as “Doc Brown,” the Christopher Lloyd character in the “Back to the Future” films—Al, you will recall, helped get Megyn Kelly fired for saying that a white person could impersonate a black character using dark make-up without engaging in racially offensive conduct—tweeted,

“I’m going to say this one last time, but the folks who get it, understand and the ones who DON’T, won’t. I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color if you’re white , you can be President Obama if you want. Just don’t color your skin!”

Wait: what about hair, Al? I’ve read that it’s racially offensive for a white person to wear a black-hair wig, like an Afro or Bob Marley hair. But it’s okay for you to wear a crazy old white guy wig?

Why, Al? For that matter, why isn’t wearing make-up that allows someone to actually look like the person or character he or she is portraying acceptable? Who makes these rules? Oh! Right! You do!

When I first saw that picture, I didn’t know who the hell Al was playing. I thought it might be Michael Jackson if he had lived, let himself go, and grew his nose back. Continue reading

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And The ACLU Takes A First Class Seat On The Brett Kavanaugh Ethics Train Wreck. Of Course It Has. (The ABA Stayed In Coach)

The American Civil Liberty Union has decided to make an “exception” to its supposedly unshakable policy of being non-partisan and non-political—Oh,  the pop-up fundraising appeal the group is currently showing on its website says to contribute to “stop Trump’s attack on civil liberties.” Then it vanishes, with the permanent text on the site staying abstract and without any overtly partisan slant.  Nice. And dishonest!—and announced its opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

This should not have surprised anyone, because the ACLU has become a sham organization, claiming to be non-partisan and apolitical while every day making it increasingly obvious that it, like so many organizations that take that pose (including virtually all of the mainstream news media), it is a fully committed ally of the Democratic Party. Nonetheless, there is always hope that at crucial moments in the nation’s history, organizations will find their soul, their guys and their principles before they seep away.

For this we need look no farther than The American Bar Association, another “non-partisan” group that habitually endorses Democratic Party agenda items that should not concern it at all. Its membership is overwhelmingly Democratic, and being that this entire section of the political spectrum is in the process of being ethically corrupted, many members, including members of its governing body, were prepared to turn on Brett Kanavaugh, a judge the organization had rated as very qualified for the Supreme Court, and recommend his rejection as a consequence of unsubstantiated, last minute allegations of sexual misconduct by an accuser dredging up dim memories from more than three decades ago. As a lesser tactic, many were in favor of bolstering the Democratic Party’s disingenuous call for an open ended FBI investigation, not because it is likely to clarify anything, but because it will accomplishe the Party’s stated objective since before Dr. Ford was persuaded, or pushed, to play the part of Anita Hill in this adaptation of “The Clarence Thomas Hearings.” They want to delay until after the November elections.

Thus it was that Robert Carlson, the latest Democratic Party contributor to lead the organization, wrote this letter on ABA letterhead, falsely stating that he was speaking for the ABA itself:

“The American Bar Association urges the United States Senate Judiciary Committee (and, as appropriate, the full Senate) to conduct a confirmation vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States only after an appropriate background check into the allegations made by Professor Ford and others is completed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Rather than allow him to hijack its process and integrity, the ABA sent this letter to the Judiciary Committee, clarifying that Carlson was speaking for himself only:

Of course, if it were really a non-partisan, non-ideological organization, the ABA would be in the process of removing Carlson from office. In every organization, falsely using one’s post to imply organizational support of a personal view is a firing offense. Instead, the ABA took the face-saving measure of posting Carlson’s misleading letter (lawyers are prohibited from engaging in misleading conduct) under a link saying, “ABA President Calls For…” THAT’S deceit (lawyers are prohibited from engaging in deceit). Most readers will not notice the material distinction between the President of the ABA’s position and the official ABA position, and that’s just the way the association wants it.

Well, it’s not exactly integrity, but it’s a lot closer than what the ACLU has become. Continue reading

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