End-Of-Week Ethics Inventory, 11/24/19: Really, Really Bad Mood Edition

Worst…Ethics Alarms…Week…Ever!

Or so it seems, anyway. Have people already started ignoring life for Thanksgiving? Or am I being punished for not being able to squeeze enough posts out while driving, flying, typing in crowds and moving in and out of various abodes while trying to work? To make it worse, there was a lot going on that required some time and solitude to research and analyze, and I just didn’t have it. I also managed to make myself sick. Tuesday and Wednesday had the worst non-holiday mid-week traffic of 2019, and Saturday had the lowest number of visits for that day in three years.

Well, as Andy Kinkaid, my late, cynic-philosopher college roommate, a ruined Vietnam veteran,  used to respond several times each day to every argument, disappointment, tragedy, catastrophe, and piece of bad news as he smiled and retreated to his darkened room to get stoned, “Fuck it, right?

1. Apparently there is a copyright battle over the obnoxious catch-phrase “OK, Boomer!,” the viral dismissive insult being hurled at Baby Boomers who dare to question the wisdom, passion, and hive-mind beliefs of Gen. Z-ers and Millenials. It looks like all such efforts to “own” the phrase are doomed, because it has rapidly become so ubiquitous as a put-down so quickly that nobody can prove it originated with them.

Has it occurred to any of the smug little snots brushing aside their elders that this is nothing but a personal ad hominem attack without substance, no more fair or valid, and just as rude and bigoted, as “Shut up, bitch,” “Go home to your mother, Pee-Wee,” or “Get a job, Pedro”? As a Baby Boomer, I think we ought to agree on a standard retort to “OK, Boomer” of equal substance and wit, and I hereby nominate “Keep flailing, Dumb-Ass!”

2. Speaking of Millennials, a New York Times social columnist informs me that they have decreed that on-line the term “OK” or “Okay” is now considered rude, and the proper term is “k-k,” which sound to me like a Klan chapter short of members, or someone with a stutter. Just because you want to create ugly and pointless new conventions to metaphorically mark your cyber-territory doesn’t mean I have to assent.

And no, I never have and never will use LOL or LMAO. They’ll have to shoot me first. 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

Unethical Quote Of The Week, And Incompetent Elected Official: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

“My testosterone sometimes makes me want to feel like punching [Trump], which would be bad for this elderly, out-of-shape man that he is if I did that — a physically weak specimen.”

U.S. Senator—yes, that’s Senator, not “junior high locker room blow-hard”—Cory Booker, on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

How statesmanlike and dignified. How elevating to the public discourse. How respectful to our institutions. What a fine example of civility to pass on to the young. How substantive and intellectually edifying. And what a factually ridiculous assertion: Trump’s energy at 70+ is remarkable, as the seven day a week regimen of any President would floor many a younger man.

Booker might be able to beat up several of the women running against him for Congress, as well as ancient Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. I’m surprised he is boasting about that. It’s pretty much the extent of his claim to be any better candidates than they are, and they’re nothing to cheer about.

What a stunning dimwit this man is, to think that pandering to Seth Myers’ foolish audience by spewing ad hominem insults and posing as some kind of warrior by saying what he would like to do but never would [Blogger Jim Treacher: “Let’s take a moment to imagine any Republican going on national TV and saying something like this about a Democratic POTUS. And let’s take another moment to contemplate the amusing idea of Cory Booker possessing testosterone….”] enhances his status as a worthy candidate for the Presidency.

He’s not even an honorable member of the Senate.

Ethics Quiz: The Governor’s Dress

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wore a “form fitting dress” or a “distractingly badly-fitting dress” during her state of the State address. After some pundits and a lot of social media users leveled harsh criticism of her attire, the matter quickly entered the battlefield of the gender wars. She said in a statement,

“In my speech I was encouraging people to see the humanity in one another in this cruel political environment. In an era when so many women are stepping up to lead, I’m hoping people will focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance. Until then, I’ve got a message for all of the women and girls like mine who have to deal with garbage like this every day: I’ve got your back.”

Anne Doyle, an Oakland County leadership coach for women, said,

“If she had been wearing something big and baggy, she would have been criticized for wearing that. We’re going to see a significant amount of this type of criticism as more and more women are in these type of powerful, leadership roles. It’s gender bias. But we have to power our way through it and ignore it.”

No question about it, female public figures are often subjected to higher standards of appearance than males. However, does this mean that no criticism of public comportment and appearance by public officials in the official discharge of their duties is legitimate? Here’s Ann Althouse on the controversy, writing that the Governor…

…wore a dress to her State of the State Address that was just way too tight. As many of the commenters (at The Daily Mail) observe, you can see the outline of her bellybutton. It’s not really fair to accuse everyone of body shaming when you wear something that fits so poorly. People talk about Trump’s tie being too long….

And his hair, AND his skin color, AND his hands, AND his weight. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s every fashion choice received barrels of ink-worth of automatic praise. The issue is, or should be, whether a public figures should be held accountable for decisions regarding they present themselves to the world. Cousin Vinny kept finding himself in contempt of court for inappropriately casual attire, which was deemed disrespectful to the court. Are supporters of the governor really arguing that all criticism of a female elected official’s attire or appearance is sexist? Seriously?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is…

Was criticism of the Governor’s dress unethical?

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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!

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BREAKING NEWS: Hollywood And Broadway Declare War On The Presidency, Elections, Democracy, Decency And Civility. NOW What?

“I’m just going to say one thing. Fuck Trump! It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump!’”

—Actor Robert De Niro on live TV at the Tonys last night.

Then he pumped both fists in the air, as a large contingent of the crowd of Broadway glitterati at Radio City Music Hall stood and gave him a standing ovation, endorsing the gutter insult.

I believe such un-American conduct creates an ethical obligation on the part of fair and reasonable American to demonstrate their contempt and opposition, in as strong and decisive a manner possible.

What that means is beyond my ability to suggest right now. I don’t like to write when I am angry, and I am angry. But this must not stand.

Yesterday, commenting on the unethical Tony Awards scheduling  of De Niro, who has used other appearances to make vulgar, hateful, ad hominem attacks on the President, I wrote in part,

“If you invite Robert De Niro, you are deliberately announcing that your event is going to be politically divisive and include an attack, probably uncivil, on the President—and while he will be engaged in crucial international negotiations. The President has nothing to do with the Tonys, nor does politics—the main contenders for top musicals are “SpongeBob” and “Mean Girls,” for heaven’s sakes—nor does De Niro, who is just one more movie star being used by Broadway to attract a larger TV audience.”

Naturally, CBS allowed this to go forward, because it was in search of ratings for the perpetually viewer-starved awards show. The network either knew or should have known that this meant that it would be broadcasting some kind of ugly episode. The network was accused of  conspiring with Janet Jackson to flash her breast during the supposedly family-friendly Super Bowl half-time show—you know, back in those halcyon days when games didn’t include NFL players symbolically calling the US. racist as a prelude?—and swore that it had no idea anything inappropriate was going to happen. Well, it can’t make that claim now about De Niro. De Niro’s outburst is like the breast-bearing if Jackson had been flashing at every public appearance. CBS knew he was going to insult the President. It wanted him to insult the President. Continue reading

Contrarian Ethics And Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse, the now retired law professor and increasingly active bloggress, is a habitual contrarian. That’s why she is such an interesting and politically unpredictable commentator, and why, though generally left of center by instinct, she so often ends up on the opposite side from the news media. Being a contrarian can be a useful tactic for ethicists too: it provides a bias filter. Since lawyers like Ann are trained to be able to argue both sides of any argument with equal fervor and persuasiveness, picking a position you disagree with and arguing for it anyway is a wonderful way to change your own mind, or to find lines of reasoning that might never have appeared otherwise.

It can be a trap, too, especially in the blogging biz. Having an opinion that isn’t already everywhere on the web makes a blog interesting, attracts comments, and leads to increased traffic and links. Especially in areas where one doesn’t have strong opinions, the tendency to disagree with the obvious or popular opinion becomes its own bias, and undermines trust and integrity. I have my own contrarian streak (I inherited it from my father), and I have to watch it carefully. It is not ethical (it’s unkind) to say or write things primarily because you mostly want to make people’s heads explode. I’ve done it a few times on Ethics Alarms.

This is where I have seen Althouse trending, and here is a recent example. Continue reading