Unethical Quote Of The Week: Senator Kamala Harris

“Well, I mean, I would just say, hey, Joe, instead of saying, no, we can’t, let’s say yes, we can.”

Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful Senator Kamala Harris, responding to Joe Biden’s 100% correct observation that a President could not ban so-called “assault weapons” by executive order as Harris had pledged she would, due to the Constitution.

When I was preparing yesterday’s post on the ABC Democratic candidates debate, this statement, which made my head explode at the time it was delivered, was supposed to have a prominent place. Then I couldn’t find it in the transcript. Why? I’m an idiot, that’s why. Somehow I got it in my head that the speaker was Elizabeth Warren, not Harris, so I was searching the transcript for her, and not finding the exchange. Finally I gave up.

Luckily Ann Althouse was similarly nauseated by the same Harris quote, and posted about it on her blog later in the day. Among the truly scary statements, and there were many of them, during the debate (ask your Democratic friends if they can name a single similarly outrageous policy-related quote during any of the 2015 and 2016 debates  by candidates of either party) I rank Harris’s as #1, followed by Beto’s epic “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47…” and Biden’s ridiculous “Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime” statement. (Incidentally, he launched a fun parlor game: see if you can top other players with the most sinister character who would have avoided prison time under Joe’s formula. My favorite: Al Capone). Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The ABC Democratic Candidates Debate

1, The overwhelming impression one—well, this one—got from last night’s depressing Democratic candidates debate is that the United States of America has somehow painted itself into a corner where one of the worst characters in American political history is nonetheless the shaky human firewall against a calculated overthrow of the American experiment by a sickening conspiracy of power-seeking demagogues, democracy-defacing socialists , individual liberties-rejecting totalitarians, and, of course, and a news media that self-righteously views itself as the propaganda agent for all of these.  In the immortal words of Chester A. Riley,  wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

But here we are.

2. Symbolic of the plight was the sight of long-time Clintonista and Democratic Party operative George Stephanopoulos  sitting in the debate moderator’s chair last night. No one who is aware of the ABC host of the news division’s morning and Sunday  show could possibly view his presence as anything but an overlay of bias and a guarantee of soft-ball questions and general favoritism. The problem is that many, perhaps most, of the target audience of last night’s fiasco are not aware of it. Remember 2015, when the GOP hopefuls subjected themselves to the sneering contempt of such leftist moderators as CNBC’s  panel of Becky Quick, John Harwood, and Carl Quintanilla? Their questions and interjections from the moderators were, as I observed at the time, ” so hostile, so disrespectful, so obviously concocted from a biased perspective,” that there was criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. Nonetheless, at least the Republicans were challenged, and they knew that partisan opponents facing them were not going to countenance flagrant misinformation. This is why the DNC’s cowardly decision to freeze Fox News out of the debates was such a transparent effort to avoid fair vetting of the candidates, fair meaning in this case, something more challenging than boot-licking submissiveness. “It was a great debate. I think we learned a lot tonight,” the lackey enthused after it was all over. Did anyone really think that was a great debate? That kind of self-evident spin is supposed to be reserved for people like Tom Perez. Continue reading

Anti-Trump Hate Porn

I’ve written my quota of “resistance” ethics articles today I know, but I can’t help posting this one.

I was stuck in the DMV, and read a New York Times book review titled Which Came First, Trump or TV?” The reviewer is , who is described in biographies as a writer of satire. The book he reviews is “Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America” by James Poniewozik, the Times TV critic.

Both the positive review and the book it describes cannot be justified except as salacious efforts to slake the hate of the most Trump-Deranged among Americans. Poniewozik‘s book, described as non-fiction, is full of negative characterizations of the President, his thinking and his personality that are not justified by the author’s education, background, research or expertise. Poniewozik is a TV critic, and that’s pretty much all he has ever been. He has no special expertise or experience in politics or history; he is not a biographer; he isn’t a psychologist. This is his only book, and he is obviously using Trump hate to attract readers and sales, as well as positive reviews by writers who also have no qualifications to justify their getting the assignment. Both the book and the review are the product of bias, designed to foster bias.

Early in the review, we get this:

But Poniewozik, the chief television critic of this newspaper, uses his ample comedic gifts in the service of describing a slow-boil tragedy. If humor is the rocket of his ICBM, the last three years of our lives are the destructive payload.

Everything is terrible! Where have I heard that Big Lie before? I would have stopped reading right there, but you know: Department of Motor Vehicles.

Almost immediately after that moment of signature significance from the reviewer, we get this… Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #5: “Everything Is Terrible”

The Ethics Alarms compilation of the Big Lies being used by the resistance and others to undermine the Trump Presidency continues with Big Lie #5.

This Big Lie, and the fact that it is one, will be a theme of the 2020 Presidential campaign. “Everything is terrible” has been a veritable mantra from the “resistance,” Democrats, progressives and the mainstream news media literally from the second Donald Trump had been declared the winner of the 2016 election, when New York Times columnist Paul Krugman announced that the stock market had declined and would  never recover. The fact that he was spectacularly wrong didn’t dissuade Krugman or his ideological allies at all. They set out to make President Trump a failure by simply saying that he was, over and over, regardless of facts and reality and often without linking their pronouncements to anything substantive.

The fanciful narrative, in turn, was advanced in casual conversation by fear-triggered citizens, in interviews by celebrities, actors and performers, in website comments and letters to the editor, in television dramas and sitcoms, novels and blogs, as they alleged dark “threats to democracy,” “increasing hate,” “dangerous times” and various “crises.” The fact that none of this hysteria was rooted in truth hasn’t slowed Big Lie #5 down a bit: it is immune from rebuttal because it was never based on substance to begin with, but rather extreme bias, emotion, and vicious political warfare.

Everything is not terrible. Indeed, by all past standards of what constitutes national misery or crisis, very little qualifies as terrible. The economy remains strong, unemployment is minimal, and wages are up. Under President Trump, the Washington Post announced yesterday that “For the first time, most new hires of prime working age (25 to 54) are people of color…Minority hires overtook white hires last year.”

Worst white supremacist President ever!

Police shootings are down, and crime is down. There has been exactly one Islamic terrorist attack in Trump’s three years. As he promised, the President hax reduced the suffocating number of government regulations, and has fought the sinister “open borders” movement on the left, by refusing to allow illegal immigration to be romanticized and enabled. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2019: Trump’s Obsession, Joe’s Hands, And University Ethics Stumbles

Good morning!

September has always been my favorite month at the beach….not that I’m at one. But I can dream…

1. Dumbest Ethics Train Wreck of the Year. Incredibly, people are still arguing over whether the President “lied” about Alabama being at risk from Hurricane Dorian, and the news media is still writing about it as if it mattered. I wish I had the time to make a list of all the real news stories with actual impact on the nation that the mainstream news media has buried or ignored in recent years to contrast with this nonsense. Of course, the President is also at fault, since he is incapable of letting stuff like this go, as, say, a well-adjusted adult and responsible leader would. The latest (from the AP);

…The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement from an unidentified spokesman stating that information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that “tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.” The advisories were dated from last Wednesday, Aug. 28, through Monday, the statement read.

Friday’s statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

The statement from NOAA contrasts with comments the agency’s spokesman, Chris Vaccaro, made Sunday. “The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama,” Vaccaro said at the time.

Friday’s NOAA statement, released just before 5 p.m., points to a few graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center to support Trump’s claims. The maps show percentage possibility of tropical storm force winds in the United States. Parts of Alabama were covered, usually with 5% to 10% chances, between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3. Maps on Aug. 30 grew to cover far more of Alabama, but for only 12 hours, and the highest percentage hit 20% to 30% before quickly shrinking back down.

Alabama was not mentioned in any of the 75 forecast advisories the hurricane center sent out between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2. From Aug 28 to Aug. 31, a handful of locations in Alabama were mentioned in charts that listed percentage chance of tropical storm force winds or hurricane winds, maxing out at about 7 percent chance for Whiting Field to get tropical storm force winds.

Former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read blasted NOAA leadership Friday night on his Facebook page calling the situation “so disappointing” and saying he would comment because NOAA employees were ordered to be quiet.

“Either NOAA Leadership truly agrees with what they posted or they were ordered to do it. If it is the former, the statement shows a lack of understanding of how to use probabilistic forecasts in conjunction with other forecast information. Embarrassing. If it is the latter, the statement shows a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking,” Read wrote.

Takeaways: This is only news because 1) so many people will grab on to anything if it will allow them to denigrate the President and 2) the President acts the way he does.

2. Least shocking ethics story of the week: Campaigning in Cedar Rapids, Joe Biden grabbed pre-school teacher Jessica Roman’s  hands and held them while he double-talked around her  question about his plans to help unionized teachers deal with Iowa’s collective bargaining laws. She later told the news media that his physical contact was “unwelcome”: Continue reading

Observations On The President’s Stupid Hurricane Map “Scandal.”

Destined to take its place in “resistance” and mainstream media obsessions along side President Trump’s stubborn misrepresentation of his inauguration crowd, the controversy over the bizarrely altered Dorian path  map was one more in a long nauseating chain of similar incidents. If you were lucky enough to miss it, here’s the scoop.

In the middle of a Labor Day tweeting frenzy, President Trump issued an erroneous tweet that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian. I have no trouble in filing this part under “Who cares?” He’s not a meteorologist, a scientist or even a relaible source of information. Over-heated and contrived complaints that his goof “endangered citizens” are just familiar Trump derangement: anyone who depends on the President for weather predictions when there are so many obviously more reliable authorities available may be doing the gene pool a favor.

Officials with the National Weather Service quickly issued a public correction, tweeting, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.” That should have ended it

But, in the throes of the kind of inexplicable, self-destructive, foolish impulse that we have all grown to expect and love, President Trump then appeared in a video released by the White House in which he displayed a weather forecast map, dated from 11 a.m. on Aug. 29, supposedly showing that Alabama would  be affected. The graphic appeared  to have been crudely altered with a black Sharpie, however, as you can see above.

“We had, actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hit — hitting Florida directly,” Trump says. “That was the original chart,” Trump said. “It could’ve, uh, was going towards the Gulf.”  Later, he tweeted out that chart, saying,

This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!

Here’s the  chart that he tweeted:

It also includes misleading lines drawn onto the graphic.

Why, why, WHY??

Observations: Continue reading

The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

“AAAAAAAIIIIIII!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!”

Rebecca Makkai, an American novelist of moderate success, tweeted,

Fascinating!  And her tweet raises some trenchant ethics questions:

1. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?

Answer: As a bad American, as well as stunningly arrogant. The impulse is fascist: those who don’t agree with the political positions of Makkai and her ilk are not merely wrong, mistaken or misguided, but abnormal. It is particularly subversive to pronounce those who are behaving exactly as U.S. citizens have behaved and have been expected to behave since 1789 as not being normal, while Makkai, one of the divisive and destructive members of the “resistance” attempting to undermine the nation’s unity and institutions, pose as respectable.

2. Does an individual’s aversion to red caps because one variety carries a slogan deemed objectionable to the Trump Deranged qualify as a sensitivity anyone is obligated to observe in their choice of headgear? Continue reading