Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/19: Bait And Switch, Inconvenient Honesty, Fake News

Oh, good morning, I guess…

1. Once again: this should be illegal, because it is unconscionable. Recently re-elected Rep. Don Marean, a multiple term Maine state legislator from York County, announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an Independent.  In a Friday text message last week, he said that “out of respect” for House Republicans  he would not  comment on the resaon for his decision and would let it “speak for itself.”

It does speak for itself; it tells us that Marean is an unscrupulous, liar who gained election to office fraudulently. Elected officials who betray voters this way have an ethical obligation to resign from office and run again under the party affiliation they will stick to.

2. Keep it up! Please! The freshman Democratic House members, in a single day, managed to strip away the mask of the Democratic Party and expose more of the ugliness beneath than the party veterans deemed wise. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) refused to be sworn in with her hand on the traditional Bible,  and insisted that a law book be used for the purpose instead. She is a member of the party that has been questioning whether Catholics are fit to be federal judges, and the message that one party is openly hostile to religion is becoming clearer and clearer. The Bible is a moral/ethical document, and accepting it for the purpose of a binding oath should not be a problem for anyone unless they are trying to make a point. Using a law book is no more appropriate or meaningful than using a Harry Potter novel: oaths are declarations of duty, honesty and integrity, not law. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/17/2018: The Tragedy Of The Commons Bites Starbucks (Good!) And Other Fiascos

Are we having holiday fun yet?

Not yet…

1. ” Madness! Madness!” (Culturally literate readers will be able to name the movie.)

An 11-year-old boy named Joshua Trump has been forced to go by a different name at his Delaware middle school because he has been relentlessly bullied and punched on the a school bus because of his last name.  School officials said that as soon as they learned of the bullying they took action, including disciplining students  involved. The school should be investigating teachers, who may be signalling their biases against the President, and we should be looking at the bullies’ parents and the toxic influence of the media.

This story is just a tiny tip of a very large, very deep, very dangerous cultural iceberg.

President Trump should write the boy and his family, or better yet, call him.

2. “My Bloody Valentine” ethics. I am compiling a list of the very best horror movies for a relative who professed ignorance of the genre. I have done the same for Westerns (this became a Smithsonian program) and movie musicals. It is really annoying to hear people say that they don’t like movie musicals when they have never watched “Singin’ in the Rain” or Fred and Ginger at their best, or that they don’t like Westerns when they have never seen “Shane.” What they are really saying is “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I have strong opinions on it anyway.”

But I digress. I had remembered that the 2008 remake of “My Bloody Valentine” had impressed me with its original and gory special effects, like the maniac mine murderer jamming a shovel into a victim’s face between her nose and mouth, causing the top half of her head to sliiiide down the shovel blade, or the killer yanking another victim’s lower jaw off with a pick- axe. What fun! But when I selected the film on Netflix to see if it was list-worthy, I discovered that those moments and many others had been edited out. This effectively renders the film pointless and scare-free, but it is also a bait-and-switch. If the film isn’t really the film the director made, a notice to that effect is mandatory. I assumed that Netflix only showed the movie, the whole movie, and nothing but the movie. Guess not.

3. Tucker Carlson, boycotts, and virtue signaling. On his Fox New show, Tucker Carlson was discussing the attitude exhibited by some politicians toward illegal immigration and the economic impact it has on the United States:

“Our leaders demand that you shut up and accept this. We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided. Immigration is a form of atonement. Previous leaders of our country committed sins; we must pay for those sins by welcoming an endless chain of migrant caravans. That’s the argument they make. Somehow the immigration-as atonement idea has become the official position of virtually every guilty liberal in the United States. Our tech overlords, the ones always lecturing you, corporate America, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan—they all believe this, and anyone who disagrees with them is denounced as a bigot and fired.”

But how do you really feel, Tucker? I think Tucker would like to take back “dirtier”—how do illegal immigrants make the country dirtier?—but then he’s speaking extemporaneously. His overall point, while a bit inflammatory in the rhetoric used to express it, is valid. However, Pacific Life, which ran an ad on Fox right after Carlson’s rant proclaiming that the company had been “protecting generations of families for 150 years,” decided it was time to grandstand. (Carlson has also been a target of Media Matters efforts to get sponsors to abandon his show, because the best way to win arguments is to muzzle opposition, especially when your own position makes no sense.)

The company released this:

“Pacific Life’s national advertising campaign runs on numerous networks and cable stations on a variety of news, business and sports programs. One of our ads appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show last night following a segment where Mr. Carlson made a number of statements regarding immigration. As a company, we strongly disagree with Mr. Carlson’s statements. Our customer base and our workforce reflect the diversity of our great nation, something we take great pride in. We will not be advertising on Mr. Carlson’s show in the coming weeks as we reevaluate our relationship with his program.”

Carlson made it clear that he was talking about illegal immigration, though he gave those who want to misconstrue him sufficient rope for them to do so. If it is going to say it disagrees with Carlson, Pacific Life is obligated to say how. (I ding comments on posts here that just say “You are wrong,” “I disagree,” or “You’re an idiot.”) They don’t, because they can’t, and don’t have the guts to take a clear position. Do they believe that the U.S. has an obligation to take in all of the world’s poor? Do they not agree that unregulated and unrestrained immigration will make the country poorer and less united? Do they disagree that liberal guilt and race-baiting are primary tools of those pushing for open boarders? They probably haven’t thought about any of these things beyond the thought a puppy gives a biscuit. They just want to signal “Immigrants good!” and, to use Ann Althouse’s phrase, “Orange man bad!”

Are there corporations with integrity? Right now I can’t think of any. Continue reading

Verizon Lies. (In My Opinion, Of Course)

I think have mentioned here before the frustration of not having high-speed internet available where I live, in Alexandria, Virginia, ZIP 22305. unless I surrender to the horrors of Comcast, which I will not do. According to a source at Verizon, my carrier, the problem is that the City of Alexandria insists on what sound to me like kickbacks from the company in order to get approval to install the necessary hardware. There may be other reasons: I don’t care. I keep seeing Fios ads directed at my locality, and keep getting told that it is unavailable. This has significant business consequences for ProEthics and me. I would like to do have video commentary, and we don’t have the speed to upload one, to give just one example.

Yesterday, I received this email from Verizon:

Important service message for PRO ETHICS LTD: Fios is now available at your location.

There are service updates available for your business. Call us to find out about new service and product options.  We want to make sure you’re getting the right service and value for your business. So, we reviewed your  account and discovered that our latest product and service upgrades could help PRO ETHICS LTD increase
efficiency and productivity. Call us today-we’ll take you through the available service options and give you a Firm Price Quote.

Call your Rep at 888.704.7905 or schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,
Stephen E. Marinetto, Marketing Director, Verizon Business Markets

So informed, I called my “representative.” The results of my call? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/18: Post Gently-Lapping Bluish Eddy Edition

Good morning!

Prelude: I guess I’m glad that I don’t have to face the dilemma I described in the previous post. Giving my Facebook friends the in-the-face-rubbing they so richly deserved—yes, it genuinely ticks me off to be accused of taking talking points from Sean Hannity when I point out really, really bad arguments by any objective standard—would have been wrong, but it would have felt so, so good. Actually, I could still justify some nyah-nyahing, because the “resistance” and the Democrats failed miserably last night, but they won’t admit it, and it’s hard to get those who have technically won to admit that, in fact, they lost.

But they did. Let me reiterate, in case there is any confusion, that nothing could make me vote for Donald Trump, now or ever. It is a national tragedy that someone with his temperament and ethical deficits is in the White House. He is an ethics corrupter, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barry Bonds, and many others, but the entire Democratic Party has become an ethics corrupter of far more consequence and danger to the country. There are too many factors to balance and weigh, but I think the reason there was no “blue wave” last night is that much of America understands the latter as well despite no illusions about President Trump.

All the Democrats had to do was to be fair, civil, and rational over the past few months, and their dreams might have come true. That they couldn’t do it suggests to me that they are incapable of being fair, civil, or rational, and who wants to trust such individuals with power? As I wrote in a comment this morning,

“All the hate, all the anger, all the boycotts and obscenity, all the fake news, all the legal harassment, all the Sally Yates/James Comey sabotage, all the judicial partisan blocking, all the one-way ridicule on the comedy shows and the bullying on social media, all the Republican retirements, all the NeverTrump tantrums from people like Flake, McCain, George Will and others, the late attacks and threats by right-wing wackos—all of that, and the Democrats picked up a lousy 35 seats or so, with a President who (probably) has an approval rating under water?”

and

“Mid-terms are always examples of regressions to the mean. Everyone once thought that the GOP would lose both Houses and the White House in the last election. Trump behaves like a baboon,and even while his policies are working, people like me are embarrassed to have an ass like this representing the country. The Left’s tactics didn’t work; they played into Trump’s hands.”

This can’t be spun, though the news media will try: In Obama’s first mid-term, the GOP picked up 63 seats. In Clinton’s first, the flips were 54.

1. Speaking of spin, which is the process of misleading the public about events for partisan purposes (it’s unethical) …it’s fun/depressing to consider some of the various headlines linked at RealClearPolitics:

  • “Split Decision: Divided Government Returns to D.C.”  Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics

(The government was already divided. Trump’s not a Republican, and Republicans within his administration were and are working against him.

  • “For Democrats–and America–a Sigh of Relief” —Frank Bruni, New York Times

(What a great tell.  It’s adorable that to the Times and its resistance pundits, the only Americans they acknowledge are the ones that agrees with  The Times.)

  • “Democrats Won the House, But Trump Won the Election”— Ed Rogers, Washington Post

Bingo.

  • “Trump’s Political Strategy Is Failing” —Ezra Klein, Vox

Klein and Vox are hilarious. I wonder what color the sky is on their planet?

  • “Voters Want Balance, Not Resistance”— Josh Kraushaar, National Journal

I think that’s a fair analysis, but will it stop House Democrats from spending most of their time trying to “get” Trump? Of course not.

  • “Kavanaugh Fight Was the Turning Point for Republicans”— Byron York, DC Examiner

Not just Republicans, but fair and reasonable  Americans. But the ethics corrupting Democratic party has minimized the number of such Americans. Here is part of a letter in the New York Times magazine, extolling an article about the travails of a convicted felon trying to get a law license after serving time for a robbery at gunpoint he committed when he was 16:

“This article left me in tears both for Betts’s years long effort to become a lawyer despite his rehabilitation and for the continued battle to make life fair for brown-skinned people in America. I couldn’t help thinking that our government just voted to allow an alleged sexual predator, and clearly a very angry white man, to the Supreme Court for life….”

Hey, Amy Gittleman (that’s the letter-writer’s name), I’m accusing you of sexual assault. Now you are exactly as much an “alleged sexual predator” as Brett Kavanaugh. Are you angry about that? Of course Kavanaugh was angry: he was smeared in public by a 30-year-old discovered memory alleging his misconduct as a minor. But you think that a conviction of a felony while a black man was a minor shouldn’t be a bar to practicing law, while an unsupported accusation of unreported misconduct as a minor that surfaces with a political agenda should be a bar to joining the Supreme Court if the accused is a “white man.” Got it. You’re an idiot. Who or what made you this way?

  • “Democrats’ Health-Care Revenge”—Jeff Spross, The Week

Classic example of spin. Pick what you want the Democratic House gains to mean, and say that they mean that.

“Dems’ Victory in House Provides Crucial Protection for Mueller”—Elie Honig, CNN

Another tell. The mainstream news media narrative is that the Mueller investigation really, really, really is going to find impeachable acts by the President. It should be obvious that it’s not, and that if an Evil Traitorous Trump had any reason to fear Mueller, he would have fired him long ago. Mueller needs no protection, just a sympathetic and partisan ethics panel.

But this is CNN.

  • “Exit Polls: Majority Say Russia Probe ‘Politically Motivated'” —Philip Klein, DC Examiner

This is because the Russia probe was and is politically motivated. “You can fool some of the people…”

2. But enough about the elections…Let’s talk about our future military leaders and animal cruelty. At West Point, before the annual rivalry football game, two cadets kidnapped two Air Force Academy falcons, the football team’s mascots, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates. Aurora, a two-decade old bird, bloodied her wings from thrashing inside the crate, and sustained life-threatening injuries. Army officials  apologized and promised a full investigation.

“We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect,” the academy said in a statement.

The two cadets have the judgement of an Adam Sandler character, and should be kicked out after a hearing. That’s all we need is military officers with that level of sensitivity and common sense.

3. “Walking Dead” ethics. I once regarded the AMC show as the best ethics drama on TV. Indeed, it still has flashes of that: one of the speeches a dead character gave to Rick Grimes in a fevered dream last episode was a wonderful description of ethics. (If only I could find the video clip…. ) But a few seasons ago (this is Season 9) the show started cheating, making the audience believe a favorite character had died horribly by deceptively framing the scene, having the executions of main character Rick Grimes and his son prevented at the last minute by a huge Bengal tiger that was somehow invisible until he pounced on the would-be murderer, and now, strike three, “Rick Grimes’ final episode.”

For weeks, we were told that main character Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, would finally get chomped or otherwise killed, joining most of the other characters that started out with him in a desperate effort to survive a zombie apocalypse. We even saw him apparently blow himself up, char-broiling hundreds of zombies in the process in a final heroic act, since he was fatally wounded anyway having impaled a kidney on a steel construction rod, bleeding non-stop, and being on the verge of shock trauma.  And then–surprise! At the end of the episode, we see Rick miraculously alive, winging off to somewhere in a helicopter. You see, said the producer on the weekly post-episode show, “Talking Dead,” it was Rick’s final episode on THIS show, but the character survived to emote another day, in a movie, or a spin-off, or maybe even “Walking Dead” after its fans get over being lied to once again.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/21/2018, Part 2: Wait, It’s Afternoon Already!

Good afternoon!

Here are ethics items that have nothing to do with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School anti-Second Amendment  demogogues.

2. Unethical Lawsuit of the Year. Incredibly, the Democratic National Committee yesterday announced that it is suing the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and Wikileaks, accusing them of conspiring to disrupt the 2016 Presidential election.  Suits require facts. There are no facts to support this lawsuit, only speculation, rumors and propaganda. The legal analysts whose opinions I respect haven’t even acknowledged the suit yet, perhaps because they suspect, or know, that it is a cynical publicity ploy and merely laying the foundation for a Democratic Party fundraising blitz. (Using the civil courts for such purposes is unethical, of course.) The betting here (and elsewhere) is that the lawsuit will be dismissed in short order. It is grandstanding, and to my eye, pretty desperate grandstanding.  Such a lawsuit would open the Democrats, their allies and the Clinton campaign to all manner of intrusive and embarrassing discovery. My first reaction to the news was that this almost as stupid as Oscar Wilde’s criminal libel suit over being called “a Sodomite.”

Wikileaks had an amusing response:

“The Democrats are suing WikiLeaks and @JulianAssange for revealing how the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries. Help us counter-sue. We’ve never lost a publishing case and discovery is going to be amazing fun.”

3.  More future news! Ann Althouse flagged for us a future news (psychic news?) classic,  Morning Joe” Scarborough’s op-ed in the Washington Post, “It’s becoming clear that Trump won’t run in 2020”.

Althouse writes,

I’m reading the headline and laughing. It’s on the most-read list at The Washington Post. It’s what people want to read, and isn’t that what fake news is all about, giving the people what they want (and getting them to want what you want them to want)? “Allies are quietly admitting”… “Republicans are sensing”… and Joe Scarborough is picking up the message. It seems to me Trump has faced vicious opposition all along, and he keeps winning in spite of/because of it.

This isn’t really fake news, though. Psychic news or future news is a different unethical beast, and in this case, it’s just an abuse of punditry.  It becomes fake news when the headline “Trump won’t run for re-election, insiders say” starts turning up. What is especially ironic about this trend is that there has never been a President whose stated intentions have been so changeable and unreliable, and yet the very same journalists who complain about this are willing to run breathless stories about what some leaker claims he said was his intent. President trump can’t be counted upon to do this week what he said he would do last week, and the Post thinks it is worth publishing what Morning Joe’s sources say President Trump  plans on doing three years from now. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, April 9, 2018: Experiment Results, Flowering Trees From Hell, And Ominous Signs From The Left..

Good morning…

…Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…

1. Apologies for a lost Sunday. I was never able to get back to my computer yesterday. The combination of my responsibilities to the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society as it celebrated its 46th year of operation against daunting odds, some pressing client matters and important family matters just overwhelmed my schedule, plus I was wiped out by the early evening. Of course, based on the blog’s traffic this month and the continuing ethics rot, I console my self in the message of the most famous song from “Ruddigore,” GG&SS’s student production for the anniversary…especially the final line…

“This particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn’t generally heard, and if it is, it doesn’t matter.”

Ethics commentary in a nutshell.

2. However: The regulars came through in a pinch. The free swim produced at least four  Comment of the Day quality posts, including a history of the Gettysburg address. Thanks everybody. The experiment was a ringing success, and I will have more open forums in the future.

3.  This kind of thing is why I have a hard time taking environmentalist doom-saying seriously. We planted Bradford Pear trees, which are now blooming beautifully as is their wont, in front of our house almost 20 years ago. They have their downsides, to be sure, and you have to trim them back or they are likely to split or fall over. However, here is an environmentalist claiming that they are trees from hell, and who writes in part: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/2018: “Ruggles Of Red Gap” And “Williamson No Longer Of The Atlantic'”

 

Good Morning…

(Do you remember when Saturday morning was fun? Stupid, but fun…)

1. Your cultural literacy note of the day. The Charles Laughton classic “Ruggles of Red Gap” was on Turner Movie Classics last night. The movie itself is wonderful—I recommended it in an Independence Day post here—but it is also a cultural literacy triumph.  In 1935, when the film was released, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was in the process of falling out of the public’s consciousness. The film’s most famous scene, however, revived it. In a saloon, reference is made to “what Lincoln said at Gettysburg,” and all the cowboys in Red Gap ask each other, “What did Lincoln say at Gettysburg?” Then, quietly, unexpectedly, Ruggles the English butler (Laughton) and the only foreign-born man in the room, recites the speech. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, in his post showing observations, revealed that when the film was first shown, audiences frequently stood and applauded Laughton’s rendition, and the Address itself became more widely known and quoted.

This is how popular culture works when it is in sync with national values, and not attempting to undermine them.

Here is the scene…for some reason YouTube doesn’t have it, but does have the entire film. The saloon scene begins at about the 56:09 mark:

 

 

2. The Atlantic-Kevin Williamson controversy. Unless you routinely plumb the depths of pundit wars and cultural bloodletting, you might well be completely unaware of this skirmish, but it is ultimately an ethics story. Continue reading