Hollywood Ethics: The Top 19 Movie And TV Clips Used On Ethics Alarms [Updated 2/23/21]

Here are the iconic movie clips (and one TV clip) that I turn most frequently to when the circumstances demand. The list will grow over time.

1. To illustrate the folly of suspending or violating the rule of law, the Constitution, or due process for “the greater good” as it appears to some to be at the time.

From “A Man For All Seasons”:

2. To comment on a strikingly incompetent argument, theory or proposal:

From “Murder by Death”:

3. When I feel I should resist the impulse to attack an ethics miscreant with special vigor, but decide to go ahead anyway…

From “McClintock!”

4.  To explain the conduct of some individuals or organizations that cannot be justified by facts, principles of logic, or any other valid motivation:

From “Blazing Saddles”:

5.  To illustrate the impulse to respond to injustice and the abuse of power by resorting to symbolic acts of pure defiance, even when they are likely to fail…

From “Animal House”:

6. When a individual abandons integrity or other ethical values for a non-ethical consideration…

From “A Man For All Seasons”:

7. When an individual feigns indignation and disapproval of conduct that he or she has either participated in or enabled:

From : “Casablanca”:

8. Used to signal that a politician, journalist or scholar has intentionally or negligently used such impenetrable rhetoric as to be completely incomprehensible.

From “Blazing Saddles”:

9. When an incident or argument makes no sense whatsoever, or that drives me to the edge of insanity:

From: “The Bridge Over The River Kwai” :

10. When a politician, a pundit or someone else  uses a term or word incorrectly to support an unethical action or argument:

From “The Princess Bride” :

11. Warning that a likely event or revelation will contribute to an Ethics Train Wreck already in progress or about to get rolling:

From “Jurassic Park”:

12. Commenting on a particularly incompetent, irresponsible, or otherwise unethical decision with disastrous consequences:

From: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”:

13. To make the point that deciding who are the “good guys” is often hopelessly subjective.

From “The Professionals”:

14. To suggest, often in jest, that things are rapidly spinning out of control.

From “Poltergeist”:

15. When the news media or politicians shrug off, ignore, bury or minimize the importance of a development they find inconvenient to their agendas or interests.

From “The Naked Gun”:

16. When someone demonstrates the Dunning-Kruger effect or extreme life incompetence:

From “The Godfather, Part 2”:

17. To make the point that an emotional position, act or argument is futile or embarrassing…

From “Moonstruck”:

18. When an individual seems oddly unaware that anyone would find his or her words or conduct unethical…

From “Seinfeld” (TV):

19. Used when someone’s response to a challenge or a situation where character requires opposition, confrontation, or the good fight, is to give up or flee..

From “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”…

Unethical, Damning And Revealing: “Can Peer Pressure Defeat Trump?”

That was the title of an essay in the New York Times Review section a couple of weeks ago. I took a while to get around to reading it, because it was authored by Amy Chozick, the Times journalist who wrote “Chasing Hillary,” an extended mea culpa for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s ‘s defeat by actually reporting the news. I don’t really care what someone capable of writing that thinks, but in this case, she is revealing the frightening, fascist, ends-justify-the means and power-at-any-cost mind-set of her colleagues, her party, the “resistance,” and those Facebook friends of mine who gang-attack me any time I point out that their Trump hate has eaten their brains, ethics, and respect for democracy.

“We are intensely social creatures and need to situate ourselves inside the collective,”she quotes  a professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University as telling her. From that Amy—can I call you Amy?—endorses the use of “peer pressure” —gentle, of course!—to make sure the President she and all decent people detest is defeated. Her title is itself a form of peer pressure, since she assumes that defeating Trump is what “everybody” wants, “everybody” meaning the Good People, like her. And Hillary.

I’m sorry, I threw up in my mouth there and had a giggling fit. I’m OK now.

I taught my son to ignore peer pressure, conventional wisdom, going along with the crowd, going along to get along, and caring so much about who likes you that you surrender your mind and soul. I was taught the same lessons by my relentlessly contrary, idealistic father, who drove my mother to distraction by quitting one job after another when he felt he was being asked to take part in activities he believed were wrong. He suffered for this proclivity, as have I on occasion, and as has my son already at the tender age of 24. But none of us were or are inclined to do what someone else wants us to do because of threats, shaming, mobs of advocates, mass news media propaganda, or social media bullying.

For that is what Chozick is advocating, the strategy we have been seeing since that fateful day in November of 2016 when sufficient voters decided electing a true outsider and an obnoxious one at that was the perfect way to send an indelible message to the arrogant Leftist Elite who just assumed that their dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and contempt for democracy and American values didn’t matter to the public any more.

As I wrote at the time, it was a defiant gesture akin to the decision of Delta House to destroy the homecoming parade of the college that had expelled them. Otter says,” I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!” Sometimes the bad guys just can’t be allowed to win, and Americans. thank God, are still ready to say “Fuck you!” to people who think they can order them around. Yes, electing Trump was a surprising, but much deserved, “Fuck you!”

Of the many, many unexpected benefits of Trump’s election (along with many expected deficits) , perhaps the most important has been the crazed Left’s open revelation that it has no principles whatsoever, closely followed by the completely corrupt news media’s self-impeachment. The opposition to the President—how dare he defeat Hillary, when it was time to elect a female President?—has been an escalating series of anti-democratic, indeed totalitarian tactics. The “resistance’s” violent ally, the antifa, began attacking Trump supporters during the inauguration, a fair imitation of Brown Shirts even as the “resistance” was calling the President a Nazi. That Big Lie has persisted, as have many others, most of which are false projections on Trump.of conduct that Democrats and progressives have, shockingly, adopted as their own.

They have made it clear that they do not believe men should have the rights of due process and presumed innocence, but Trump is the gender bigot . (He is, but just personally, not in his policies) With barely a wisp of proof, they state as fact that Trump is a racist, while aggressively promoting anti-white bias in their schools, colleges, and the news media. Their house historians and scholars assemble slanted and deceitful arguments to accuse the President of “breaching Democratic norms” while Democrats and their leaders have trashed one essential system-bolstering tradition and norm after another. They refused to accept the verdict of the election. They have sought to manufacture justifications for impeachment in the absence of any conduct that meets the Constitutional standard. They have, in fact, called for impeachment purely because they don’t think Trump is “fit to be President,” ignoring, and trying to alter the fact that our system makes the people the arbiter of that issue, not the election’s bitter losers.

They used high school conduct and an unsubstantiated accusation to try to defeat the President’s SCOTUS nominee; they have used obscene language and vile insults that were previously taboo to diminish him; they have attacked the President while he was representing the nation on foreign soil; they have even made it impossible for him to fulfill the unifying symbolic functions of the office, like presiding over the Kennedy Center Honors, appearing at the White House Correspondent’s dinner,  or throwing out the first pitch in a baseball game. They have weaponized the news media as a partisan force, as demonstrated by the one-way focus of CNN and other news sources.

But it’s the President who is dangerously breaching “norms.” Amazingly, many people believe this, because their peer group is saying it’s so loudly and meanacingly, or because they are not especially attentive, knowledgeable, or bright.

Perhaps the most relentless and despicable of the Big Lies emanating from the hate-filled Left is the constant fear-mongering. Since everything did not go to hell under President Trump as “the resistance” was telling us it would (an otherwise smart Massachusetts lawyer, a single mother, told me in December 2016 that she was “terrified” that her toddler son was doomed.) Every day, every single day, I hear interviews by celebrities and read everything from movie reviews to cooking features in which someone casually throws in a reference to how anxious everyone is and how we are in a crisis of existential proportions.

This week, Nick Kristof, always a hard-left scold but now apparently completely infected by the fact-free anti-Trump madness of New York Times colleagues like David Leonardt, Paul Krugman and Charles M. Blow, actually wrote a disgraceful op-ed headlined, We Will Survive. Probably.: American democracy is too resilient for Trump to destroy.”

This is propaganda, not opinion. The only threats to Democracy posed during the first three years of the Trump administration have been the loss of fair, objective and honest news reporting, and the Democratic Party’s ongoing effort to overthrow the President.

Such unconscionable distortions of reality are the catalyst for the “peer pressure” that Chozick endorses. Almost every day, there is a story of one of Chozick’s compatriots attacking someone, sometimes a child , for wearing a MAGA cap. Here’s a recent sampling:

  • “Martin County bus aide offended by MAGA hat grabs it off head of 14-year-old boy”
  • MAGA-hat wearing teen claims California high school wouldn’t permit her to wear hat

  • High school student charged with assaulting classmate wearing MAGA hat, Trump banner

That’s the kind of “peer pressure” that Chozick is endorsing, the gentle examples in her essay notwithstanding, because she knows that that’s what her fellow progressives are doing and have been doing, and it’s not “gentle”: using threats, fear, shaming, and majority pressure to make people do what the mobs–the “peers”—want them to do, or else. Or else we won’t like you, or else we won’t include you, or else we’ll conclude you’re a racist/sexist/ homophobic person who likes seeing children shot/ mean bastard who doesn’t think starving children in South America should have a better life who’s taking marching orders fro Fox New and Sean Hannity.

The peer pressure she is extolling is intimidation. It is a totalitarian strategy, not a democratic one. The Trump-hating hysterics can’t persuade because their position is built on Big Lies, fear, emotion, bias, and historical ignorance. If they can’t persuade us to agree with them, and we are independent enough to see through the lies, then they will try to force us. Hurt us, if necessary.

You know. “Peer pressure.”

 

Sunday Morning Ethics Hangover, 7/15/2018: “Animal House” And The Death Of Truth [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

(WordPress isn’t working properly this morning. Perfect…)

1. Not being biased helps you be non-stupid…Yesterday, chatting with lawyer attendees at my ethics seminar, a former government attorney told me that he had several ex-FBI colleagues who were horrified at many aspects of the Peter Strzok hearings, as was he. Among their concerns:

  • The news media was failing its duty to explain to the public the duties of professionals, and why Strzok’s conduct was unacceptable, unethical, and undermined the credibility of the investigations he was involved in.
  • Democrats were defending the indefensible, and also breaching their duty to the public. They ought to be exactly as outraged as Republicans at a figure as demonstrably biased as Strzok polluting important law enforcement inquiries, and also should have rebuked him for his defiant attitude.
  • The Strzok scandal was immensely damaging to the public image of the FBI, and should be. It demonstrates an agency that has been seriously mismanages, and that has a damaged culture.
  • The simple fact that Strzok would use FBI equipment to send his texts demonstrated outrageous incompetence and lack of judgement. Even setting aside the bias issue, for a key figure in an investigation to behave so recklessly proves that the current FBI is untrustworthy.

Naturally this is gratifying, since the positions are all consistent with those I have expressed here, and also because they are correct.

2.  When miscreants emulate “Animal House” and Democrats applaud...We also discussed Strzok’s ridiculous “Otter defense”in the hearing, as he emulated the cynical (but in that case, funny) argument offered by the “Animal House” character played by Tim Mathieson (“Take it easy! I’m pre-law!” “I thought you were pre-med!” “What’s the difference?”) in a student council hearing over his fraternity members’ outrageous conduct, especially his own:

” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions. Continue reading

Well, At Least Something Constructive Has Come Out Of The Latest Anti-Gun “Do Something!” Blather: Welcome Rationalization 40 A. Otter’s Solution, Or “I Had To Do Something!” And Rediscovered 40 B., The Lone Inspiration Excuse, Or ” Do You Have A Better Idea?”

We have talked about the empty grandstanding nostrum “Do something!” here quite a bit: there is even a tag for it, introduced in 2016, when the best the House Democrats could come up with to satisfy their anti-gun base that time around was a juvenile sit-in to demand suspension of the Fifth AND Second Amendments. Then I wrote,

The public debate over the various proposals to “do something!” about mass shootings is as depressing as any discussion I have ever participated in. The willingness of gun opponents, Democrats, journalists, pundits and otherwise intelligent people to not only defy the Bill of Rights guarantee of due process but to literally ignore its existence shows how close the stinking breath of totalitarianism is to the neck on our nation, and that it is much hotter than I realized. This isn’t an exception or an anomaly. This is a result of carefully bred contempt for American values.

The intense ignorance crossed with malice toward our Constitution reached a climax of sorts today on social media, as people who should know better (and people who do know better, like erstwhile Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren) applauded the cynical and hypocritical “sit-in” by House Democrats, who said they would hold their breath until they turned blue unless the Congress of the United States voted to allow the government to take away the rights of citizens based on “suspicion.” Only rationalizations can defend this position, primarily among them “The Saint’s Excuse,” or “It’s for a good cause,” “It” is this case meaning..

  • Accepting the ethically and morally bankrupt principle that “the ends justify the means”
  • Setting a precedent for allowing the government to abridge any rights it chooses once by some standard it finds a law-abiding citizen “unworthy”
  • Enacting a provision that the ACLU has pronounced unconstitutional
  • Establishing the principle that the Congress can and will abandon the rule of law as long as enough members of the public and media let emotion overcome reality
  • Lay the groundwork for a President, like say, just to pick a crazy, impossible example out of the air, President Trump, who is as ignorant of the rule of law as the position’s supporters, to really start ripping up the Bill of Rights, beginning with Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Association.

To put it another way, it’s a really, really stupid and indefensible position.

But that’s “Do something!”  That’s’ where it gets you.

For some reason, however, I didn’t realize then that not only is “Do something!” bolstered, enabled and pointed to by many rationalizations [ Among them…“I’m on The Right Side Of History,”“This can’t make things any worse,” “Just this once!,” “It’s for a good cause,” “If I don’t do it, somebody else will,” “There are worse things,” “I’m just giving the people what they want!,” “I have no choice!,”“It’s My Duty!,” “These are not ordinary times,” “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now,”  “I’ll do anything!,”  “If it feels good, do it!,” “Think of the children!,”  “If it saves just one life,” and “It’s the right thing to do”…] since it can’t be supported ethics or reason, it is itself a rationalization in its “I had to do something!” form or “You can’t expect me to do nothing, can you?” version. It is a very insidious and dangerous rationalization. I am angry that I didn’t see it before.

I see it now because the Santa Fe shooting really undercuts all of the previous “reasonable gun control measures” that had been proposed to end all school shootings forever, as the pompous Parkland naifs insisted. Banning assault-style weapons and “high capacity magazines.” Background checks and longer waiting periods. Tougher vetting of mental health records of gun purchasers. Not one of these, nor all of them together, would have stopped the shooting in Santa Fe. Rather than admit this like fair, rational people, the anti-gun mob has devolved into shouting, “Well….do SOMETHING!”

On my Facebook page, an old friend, a lawyer, not yet senile as far as I know, actually posted, “Hey guys, here’s an idea: let’s finally do something about all this gun violence!” And that was it. Something. No other recommendation. Something. Brilliant. Why didn’t we think of that before?

The clip that introduces this post, which I have run here before, is the famous moment in “Animal House” in which the Delta House members, led by wise-ass Otter and chaotic Bluto, conclude that the only response they can muster to being kicked off campus is a “really futile and stupid gesture.” Hence the title of #40A. I was tempted to call it Kelly’s Solution after this…

….but Otter’s is funnier, and illustrates perfectly what acceptance of “Do Something!” as a justification leads to…futile and stupid gestures, or worse. For example, it paves the way for totalitarianism, as a desperate public cheers on action for action’s sake, not paying proper heed to where the action leads.

Rationalization #40 A., Otter’s Solution, or “I had to do something!” is an invitation to be unethical, irrational, reckless and irresponsible, bypassing law, values, common sense, and any other obstacle that usually constrains bad policy and  conduct. It creates an intellectually dishonest shortcut, making the decision to act before any effective action is considered, designating action the objective rather than what the objective of the action should be. Obviously this is backwards, and it is intentionally backwards, because it takes a detour around essential questions, responsible decision makers must consider before acting,  like “Is this legal?” “Is this wise?” “What will be the long term consequences?,”  “Can this work?” and “What are the costs?” Rationalization 40A makes the conduct itself the objective rather than the results of the conduct. The imaginary virtue is taking action—even if it is futile and stupid.

And, if one challenges the badly-reasoned “something” that 40 A supports, one often will be challenged by 40 B. The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or ” Do You Have A Better Idea?”

40 B. The Lone Inspiration Excuse, or ” Do You Have A Better Idea?” qualifies as The Lost Rationalization. I announced it two years ago, never entered it on the list, and forgot about it, until today.

I am not obligated to solve the problem you cannot solve without breaching ethics or law.  Nor is it obligatory for someone pointing out why proposed conduct is illegal, unethical, dangerous, imprudent and wrong to posit alternatives for the verdict on the proposed conduct to remains valid. The Lone Inspiration Excuse suggests that a terrible course of conduct can become acceptable by default. How many catastrophes have been created by that warped logic? If a proposed measure is too wrong and reckless to undertake, it shouldn’t be undertaken. That’s the first step. Finding a better course comes later, or never, if there isn’t one.

The ethical response to someone who reasonably and carefully explains why proposed conduct cannot work and violates principles of law, ethics or common sense deserves a thank you, for that is valuable information. “Well, you solve it then!” is not a fair response. It’s a deflection, and a transparent one. If the only course of action being proposed is unethical, then the responsible and ethical better idea may be not to do anything at all.

Comment Of The Day: “Of COURSE! “Think Of The Children!” Takes The Next Irresponsible Step!”

More Stoneman High students, including the ubiquitous David Hogg,  appeared on the talking head Sunday show this morning, and I admit my reaction was the same as in my original post about the exploitation and hyping of these young Americans, who are both legitimately objects of sympathy and also inherently ill-equipped by education and life experience to add substance to the policy debate over guns besides visceral and simplistic reactions. I detest the concept of “moral authority,” when a particular experience is deemed sufficient to imbue a figure with prominence in a debate that the quality of his or her reasoning and knowledge does not. “You would feel the same way they do if you went through what they did” is not an argument, but a rationalization, and a stand-in for, “How dare you? Have you no heart?”

The news media loves bestowing moral authority, because giving a platform to victimes combines sentiment and drama—almost as good as sex and scandal. The grieving Sandy Hook parents similarly became instant experts in law and policy, just as grieving mother Cindy Sheehan had suddenly become an expert in warfare and Middle East policy a decade before. I never accepted the logic of this, even when my peers and classmates were closing down my campus, taking over buildings and dictating national policy in Southeast Asia using chants that would have been at home on any grade-school play ground. Their moral authority arose from the fact that they were facing the draft. So did much of their interest in stopping the Vietnam war. So yes, I am conditioned to view the latest edition of self-righteous, articulate, indignant and angry minors with all the answers with skepticism, and I confess, the urge to roll my eyes.

At least some of the protesters in the Sixties were pre-law. [ Otter: Take it easy, I’m pre-law. Boon: I thought you were pre-med. Otter: What’s the difference?*]

Michael has a different, less biased perspective. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Of COURSE! “Think Of The Children!” Takes The Next Irresponsible Step!:

Most of this analysis is “right on” logically, and we both operate on that scale. However, it is also not illogical to expect an emotional response from these children, who did experience the tragedy either directly or by connection. Nor is it illogical to expect them to react the way they are reacting,

BUT it would be illogical and ignoring (for them, perhaps ignorance of) history if we did. Those of us who lived through the protests of the ‘60s recognize that responding by calling them immature is not an effective answer. Yes, they are immature. Yes, they are ignorant of the Constitution, the Second Amendment (including its background and its interpretation by the Supremes), and the logic of either the gun rights or the gun control advocates (which, based on Heller, I do not believe have to be mutually exclusive). The power of their emotional response can be ignored only at the risk of erosion of Constitutional principles based on emotional reaction to them and to the condescension dripping from some of the strongest advocates for unfettered gun rights ostensibly based on the Second Amendment. Now, my own emotional response is no doubt devoid of logic.

Bless them for getting engaged in the shadow of another tragedy. Try to educate them on the applicable law and principles so that their own approach can mature. Listen to them. Maybe there is one or more prodigy who will then teach us something.

*“Animal House.”

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/31/2017: A Hate Outbreak, A Bigoted Judge, A Lost Post, And More Halloween Ethics

Good Morning!

1 On Facebook, many of my progressive friends literally expressed glee at yesterday’s indictments, especially at the charge that Paul Manafort had engaged in “conspiracy against the United States.” Lots of social media users were expressing similar sentiments, the thrust being that they were excited that two individuals who worked for the Trump campaign were facing criminal charges…simply because they worked for the Trump campaign. This cackling mob hadn’t read the indictment, or if they did, they didn’t understand it. They just were engaging in free-standing hate by association.

The reaction is not sort of like, but exactly like, what I called  the “Ugliest moment of election night”: Trump’s crowd chanting “Lock her up!” as the upset electoral victory approached. Criminalizing the political process is not the way of democracy, and rooting for people’s lives to be ruined because of their partisan alliances is disgusting. Who among the people so thrilled to see Manafort and former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos being prosecuted know anything about them other than the fact that they worked for the President’s campaign? What do they think justifies cheering their indictment? Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about when he tried to meet with Russians claiming to have damning Hillary Clinton e-mails—which, I hope you know (and I bet the Facebook mob doesn’t) isn’t a crime.

Last night, Stephen Colbert, the full-time attack jester of “the resistance,” said of the indictments, “I know it’s almost Halloween, but it really feels more like Christmas!” What an idiotic and hateful thing to say, as well as a statement that is misleading to his audience, who naturally would think that the action implicates the President and the White House in something. (It doesn’t.)

2. Colbert also engaged in gratuitous race-baiting, because dividing the country along racial lines and promoting racial distrust is apparently what progressives think is funny and cool. Noting that the charges against Paul Manafort were filed on Friday but that he didn’t have to turn himself in until Monday Colbert smirked,  “Wow, we white people really do get arrested differently.” The “joke” is untrue, and racist in its own implications, suggesting that only whites commit white collar crimes and are regarded as low flight risks, while blacks commit the violent crimes and robberies that lead to immediate arrests.

These are ugly, mean-spirited people, poisoned by ugly, mean-spirited thoughts.

You can quote me.

3. Judge W. Mitchell Nance, a Kentucky judge, resigned after judicial ethics charges were filed against him as a result of his refusing to preside over any same-sex couple adoption cases. Nance announced that he would not  participate in  gay adoption matters in April, when he issued an order saying he was recusing himself from such case, arguing that adoption by a gay couple would never be in the best interest of a child.

The judicial misconduct complaint filed last month argued that Nance’s order violated the judicial ethics canons requiring judges to promote confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, to be faithful to the law, and to refrain from showing bias or prejudice.

It does. Good riddance. Continue reading

Snopes’ Credibility Death Spiral: Presenting The Straw Man Fact-Check

Apparently the recent example of Snopes resorting to proving a “claim” false that nobody serious was claiming wasn’t an anomaly, but a new strategy. Here, Ethics Alarms commenter Tippy Scales discussed the struggling urban-legend-turned-partisan-hack-site post in defense of ESPN’s ridiculous removal of Asian -American Robert Lee from a football broadcast because he shared a first and last name with Robert E. Lee. Its spin: the accusation that “ESPN Fired Announcer Robert Lee Because His Name Sounds Like the Confederate General’s? was wrong! Except that was not what happened, nor what critics of ESPM were objecting to.

Why would Snopes do this?  Tippy  opined that Snopes “couldn’t stand having to confirm something that went against their worldview, so they invented a reason to avoid it.” The real reason appears to be even worse than that. Snopes’ current game is to mislead readers by convincing them that criticism from the right is dishonest and absurd, by searching for self-evidently idiotic accusations and then disproving them…which isn’t difficult when the accusations were dredged up from the social media swamp by Snopes specifically to debunk.

Today’s example is hilarious. Snopes:

Fact Check: Was Barack Obama President During Hurricane Katrina?

Twitter users tried to pin the blame for Katrina relief issues on Obama, though he wasn’t even president when it hit New Orleans.

CLAIM: Barack Obama was president when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
RATING: FALSE

ORIGIN: As damage from Hurricane Harvey continued to grow in Texas in late August 2017, some Twitter users sought to defend President Donald Trump’s response to the disaster by criticizing the actions of his predecessor, Barack Obama during similarly pervasive flooding in Louisiana in 2016. Other users took that argument even further, knocking Obama for not “doing enough” to help Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/16/2017

 Isn’t it a lovely morning?

1. This isn’t the first post of the day: I woke up around 4 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep (“As My Guitar Gently Weeps” was playing over and over in my head, don’t ask me why, and images from the Red Sox 16 inning loss to the Yankees was giving me the night terrors), so I went to the office and wrote this post. Charlie Green, critic and friend, properly pointed out that my comment in passing that incorrectly alluded to rumors about Joseph P. Kennedy being a bootlegger was exactly what my  post was criticizing David Brooks for doing in his attack on the entire Trump family, going back generations, a truly ugly op-ed.

What I was sorely tempted to say was that I’m just an ethics blogger, trying to focus attention on ethics standards in a daily blog from which I receive no income and intangible professional benefits if any. I mange to get 2000-4000 words published every 24 hours, working in short bursts while I try to earn a living, run a business, do research and be as good a father and husband as I can be. I have no editors, no researchers (except generous volunteers) and my blog is not a “paper of record” for journalists, seen by millions and paid for by subscribers. Is it really fair to hold Ethics Alarms to the same standards as David Brooks and the New York Times?

Make no mistake: my own standards are that no typo, no misstated fact, no misleading argument, are acceptable on an ethics blog, or any blog, or anything published on the web. Charles was right: using an unproven accusation of long-standing (Until Charles flagged it, I thought the bootlegging charge was a matter of public record) undermines my case against Brooks. Nonetheless, Brooks has absolutely no excuse. This is all he does, he has all week to produce a column or two, and he has a staff.

I’ve also corrected my error within hours of making it. What are the chances that Brooks and the Times will ever admit that they intentionally impugned the character of Fred Trump using rumors and innuendo as part of their ongoing effort to demonize the President of the United States?

My guess: Zero.

2. The big story this morning appears to be O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing. Will he be paroled and released after serving just nine years of the three-decade sentence he received for his participation in a burglary? Assuming that it is true that O.J., now 70 and unlikely to stab any more ex-wives and innocent bystanders to death, has been a model prisoner, yes, that would be the ethical result. O.J. got away with a double murder—he will not be asked at the hearing, “Once you’re out, can we assume that you’ll renew your relentless hunt for the real killer?”—but he wasn’t put in prison for that crime. Officially, he’s innocent. His fellow burglars were all put on probation, while the judge threw the book at the former football star, presumably to exact a measure of societal revenge for Nicole and Ron. The sentence was unethical. I don’t feel sorry for O.J. at all; I’m glad he had to serve hard time, just as I would have been happy if he had been squashed by a meteor. Justice, however, demands that he go free.

The bastard. Continue reading

Introducing Rationalization #63. Irrelevant Civility and #64 A. Bluto’s Mistake

The most infuriating comment threads on Ethics Alarms are those in which one or more intelligent readers are desperately tying to dispute the indisputable ethics breach, and finding no substantive ethical argument because there are none, desperately throw one rationalization after another against the metaphorical wall to see if they’ll stick. They don’t of, course.

Occasionally, however, there is a benefit to the exercise: in their furious effort to find an legitimate argument while hunting through the rationalization dumpster, one of the protesters uncovers one that the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List had thus far missed. So it is with one of the most rationalization-choked exchanges ever to break-out on this site, the debate over the cast of “Hamilton” crossing multiple ethics lines, thick red ones, to exploit the  opportunity for political grandstanding occasioned by Vice-President Elect Mike Peck engaging in the benign and supportive act of attending their show. (The posts on this episode are here and here.) Not only was a new rationalization revealed#63, Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!”—but my thinking about that one revealed that I had also missed another one, distinct but related, #63A, Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!”

The total number of rationalizations on the list now stands at 80.

Rationalization 63. Irrelevant Civility or “But I was nice about it!” Continue reading

Three Ethically Perceptive Takes On The Election

Amidst all the hysterical “the fascists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes and misogynists have taken over! Run! Hide!” commentary—which, incidentally, is inciting violence far more directly than anything Donald Trump has ever said—a couple of non-right wing commentators have tried to bring some perspective and rationality to the question of what happened Tuesday. Naturally, they focus on ethics.

First, however, in contrast, I give you the vile pronouncements of Slate’s professional race-baiter and anti-white demagogue, Jamelle Bouie. His piece for Slate—I will not trust the site as long as they give a bigot like Bouie a forum—was called “White Won.”  Here’s a typical passage:

“After eight years of a black president—after eight years in which cosmopolitan America asserted its power and its influence, eight years in which women leaned in and blacks declared that their lives mattered—millions of white Americans said enough. They had their fill of this world and wanted the old one back. And although it’s tempting to treat this as a function of some colorblind anti-elitism, that cannot explain the unity of white voters in this election. Trump didn’t just win working-class whites—he won the college-educated and the affluent. He even won young whites. Seventeen months after he announced his candidacy, millions of white Americans flocked to the ballot box to put Trump into the White House. And they did so as a white herrenvolk, racialized and radicalized by Trump.”

Three observations: 1) This is the mentality that Barack Obama and the Democrats have encouraged and nourished, in order to derive maximum political benefit from dividing the nation, 2) what epic gall to call Trump’s 58% of the white vote proof of racism, when Obama’s 93% black vote in 2012, after a disastrous first term (though the second term made it look good by comparison), was happily regarded as “loyalty,” 3) The fact that Trump’s opponent was corrupt and insulted half of all voters had nothing to do with how anyone voted.

Oh: Bouie’s screed was sub-headed, “We are still the country that produced George Wallace. We are still the country that killed Emmett Till.”

I didn’t vote for Trump, but on behalf of my country, I am offended and insulted.

That’s enough of that toxic jerk. Here are three open-minded commentators who are trying to blunt the left’s calculated strategy of turning half the nation against the other.

1. Robby Soave: Trump Won Because Leftist Political Correctness Inspired a Terrifying Backlash

I’ll begin by saying that Trump’s win is attributable to anger over political correctness goes too far, but the Left’s increasing hostility to free speech, and non-conforming opinion was definitely a prime source of legitimate suspicion and distrust toward Democrats. It was certainly among the factors that finally convinced me not to vote for Hillary.  Soave also is patting himself on the back for playing Cassandra. There is a lot of this “I told you so” going around, as usually happens when the conventional wisdom is spectacularly wrong. It’s all moral luck, of course. The pundits and experts seeking recognition as geniuses are trying to capitalize on being at least as lucky as wise. Still, Soave was right, and many others saw what he did. The Reason journalist writes in part…

I have tried to call attention to this issue for years. I have warned that political correctness actually is a problem on college campuses, where the far-left has gained institutional power and used it to punish people for saying or thinking the wrong thing….I have warned that a lot of people, both on campus and off it, were furious about political-correctness-run-amok—so furious that they would give power to any man who stood in opposition to it.

…The left sorted everyone into identity groups and then told the people in the poorly-educated-white-male identity group that that’s the only bad one. It mocked the members of this group mercilessly….It called them racists….

There is a cost to depriving people of the freedom (in both the legal and social senses) to speak their mind. The presidency just went to the guy whose main qualification, according to his supporters, is that he isn’t afraid to speak his.

2.  Will Rahn:  Commentary: The unbearable smugness of the press

This is Ethics Hero territory: a CBS reporter pointing an accusing finger at his employer and the rest of the profession. Journalists finally pushed their arrogance, incompetent and bias to the breaking point, and serious wounded—I hope killed—the public’s trust. They slimed Sarah Palin and got away with it; they distorted Mitt Romney to re-elect Obama. But handed a candidate so awful that all they had to do was tell the truth, the news media still decided that it needed to make sure its candidate won. Americans like fairness. When Trump said the the election was “rigged” because the news media was supporting Hillary, it was so obvious that he was right.

Rahn:

Had Hillary Clinton won, there’d be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic. So much for that. …Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists, at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice…This is all a “whitelash,” you see. Trump voters are racist and sexist, so there must be more racists and sexists than we realized. Tuesday night’s outcome was not a logic-driven rejection of a deeply flawed candidate named Clinton; no, it was a primal scream against fairness, equality, and progress. Let the new tantrums commence! 

3. Mike Rowe, on Facebook

The “Dirty Jobs” reality TV star is perceptive, objective and articulate, and when asked his reactions to the election—he was not a Trump supporter—replied in part:

I know people are freaked out…I get it. I’m worried too. But not because of who we elected. We’ve survived 44 Presidents, and we’ll survive this one too. I’m worried because millions of people now seem to believe that Trump supporters are racist, xenophobic, and uneducated misogynists. I’m worried because despising our candidates publicly is very different than despising the people who vote for them…

I don’t think Donald Trump won by tapping into America’s “racist underbelly,” and I don’t think Hillary lost because she’s a woman. I think a majority of people who voted in this election did so in spite of their many misgivings about the character of both candidates. That’s why it’s very dangerous to argue that Clinton supporters condone lying under oath and obstructing justice. Just as it’s equally dangerous to suggest a Trump supporter condones gross generalizations about foreigners and women.

These two candidates were the choices we gave ourselves, and each came with a heaping helping of vulgarity and impropriety. Yeah, it was dirty job for sure, but the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation – it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change. The people did not want a politician. The people wanted to be seen. Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them. Hillary Clinton did not.

Finally, a bonus analysis to provide perspective: mine.

Last night, as often happens, a comment from a reader (and old friend) prompted a “Eureka!” moment. I realized how very American this election was, and gained some respect and a great deal of understanding for what happened. The commenter wrote about how terrified people were, and how a friend had told her that she was seriously considering suicide. She also said she was beginning to lose her confidence that “it can’t happen here.” I was watching video of protests and riots as I read this. I wrote (I edited this slightly):

And this is what the scaremongering does to the ignorant and weakminded, to be brutally blunt, and why the scaremongers need to cut it out.

Anyone who seriously sees parallels between Trump and Hitler understands neither, nor the corresponding historical context, nor the two nations and their very different cultures. Hitler rose because the Germans, who always had wanted a strongman, were desperate, and their self-esteem had been destroyed. Americans got tired of being pushed around, lectured, and being told that traditional cultural values made them racists and xenophobes. They decided to say “Screw that!” by electing a protest candidate whose sole function was to be a human thumb in the eye, because he was so disgusting to the people who had pretended to be their betters. Don’t you understand? It’s idiotic, but the message isn’t. It’s “Animal House”! and “Animal House” is as American as Doolittle’s Raid:

Otter: Bluto’s right. Psychotic… but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!

Bluto: We’re just the guys to do it.

In Germany, The Big Cheese says jump and the Germans say “How high?” In the US, the response is “Fuck you!” Obama never understood that. He and the Democrats are finally getting the “fuck you!” they have been asking for. I love that about America. And much as I hate the idea of an idiot being President, I do love the message and who it was sent to. America still has spunk.

I love spunk.