Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/2020: ARRRGH!!!

Grrrr…

Well, that’s my reward for setting the all-time ethics Alarms record for posts yesterday (8): I wake up to find my desk top won’t connect to the internet, sending me into Verizon Customer Service Hell. Then the tech puts me in safe mode, where I can connect to WiFi, but my password stops working, and I can’t get out of safe mode. I’m doing this post on my laptop, or as it affectionately known on Ethics Alarms, the Typo Machine. Other asides:

  • The Get Well bouquet Other Bill sent my wounded wife on behalf of the blog’s commentariat after her fall finally withered after exactly three weeks. It brightened our home and her spirits, and we are very grateful.
  • We joke about Trump Derangement, but the phenomenon resembles an actual illness, unlike its predecessors, the Clinton, Bush and Obama Derangement Syndromes. What has changed is the news media, which feeds and magnifies the mob-mentality and blind hatred with its daily, sometimes hourly, click-bait outrage stories aimed at the President. The Deranged immediately post them to a throng of “likes,” spawning the usual insulting comments. Imagine, a daily game based on denigration of the President of the United States, played daily and gleefully by millions of Americans. It is not healthy, responsible, respectful, or fair.

1. Wow, the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal is  making people angrier as time goes on. MLB is taking measures to protect Astros players from retaliation from pitchers, as dark comments have been made about how the competition will inflict punishment on the cheating players even if Commissioner Rob Manfred has not. Yesterday, a poll participated in by thousands of baseball fans favored the Astros having to forfeit their 2017 World Championship by a three to one margin. (Please  recall that taking away the title was my recommendation when the scandal first broke.)

I also find it disturbing that while the Astros players and owner have been on an apology tour (though not a very effective one), deposed Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was identified by the MLB investigation as the mastermind behind the sign-stealing scheme, has said nothing–no confession, no apologies, no statements at all.

Another scandal related note: the MLB Network’s Brian Kenny expressed amazement at the difference between players angry reactions to the sign-stealing revelations and the way they closed ranks and largely refused to condemn the steroid cheats. “They say now that they weren’t playing on a level playing field with the Astros knowing what pitches were coming,” Kenny said. “Level playing field! What did they think was the situation when the batters were juicing?” Continue reading

Christmas Eve Ethics Stocking Stuffers, 12/24/2019: All Right, It’s All About Impeachment…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night…

1. In the spirit of the season, I did not post this on Facebook with the note, “Good plan, everybody!” But I wanted to…According to Gallup, Trump’s approval is at 45 %. This actually beats Barack Obama’s approval rating of 42%  from Gallup at the exact same point in his presidency.  Obama went on to win reelection the following November, against a much stronger opposition candidate than anyone the Democrats have in the running. True, it helped that his IRS knee-capped conservative groups that might have helped Romney, but still.

Meanwhile, more bad news for the “everything is terrible” gang: Bloomberg reports that holiday shopping last Saturday sales reached $34.4 billion, the biggest single day in U.S. retail history.

2. Meanwhile, Trump Derangement reached a critical stage: Continue reading

Final ‘Week Before Christmas’ Ethics Shopping, 12/16/2019: Joy, Obama, And JPMorgan

Inspiring Christmas lyrics of the week:

Oh, the world is your snowball, see how it grows
That’s how it goes, whenever it snows
The world is your snowball just for a song
Get out and roll it along

1. That this kind of thing could happen at a major bank in 2019 is inexplicable and disgusting. Jimmy Kennedy, a nine-year NFL veteran,  earned $13 million during his nine-year career and had been told that he would be accepted as a “private client” at JPMorgan Chase, an elite designation with perks like travel discounts, exclusive event invitations and better deals on loans. When he went to  his local JPMorgan branch in Arizona to determine why he had not been accepted into the cataegory, he was told by his representative, who is black, “You’re bigger than the average person, period. And you’re also an African-American. We’re in Arizona. I don’t have to tell you about what the demographics are in Arizona. They don’t see people like you a lot.”

Kennedy recorded the conversation, and after pulling most of his money out of JPMorgan,  complained to the bank as well as an industry watchdog agency. The bank sent him a letter saying, “You stated that Mr. Belton informed you that our firm was prejudiced against you and intimidated by you because of your race. We found no evidence to substantiate your allegations.”

He also sent the recording to the New York Times, which wrote about Kennedy’s experience. A few days later, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, sent a memo telling employees that such behavior “does not reflect who we are as a company and how we serve our clients and communities every day.”

That’s the Pazuzu Excuse: “It wasn’t me!” Sorry, chief, but if you have employees treating African Americans like Kennedy was treated, that is who you are as a company, and as CEO, you’re responsible. Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part II

Part I is here.

King refused to apply his usual ethics alarms to Obama, but continued to be a credible and objective analyst where the D.C. government was involved. He was an instant Donald Trump-hater, however. the second the 2016 results were known. I can understand reaction to the two-time runaway winner of the Ethics Alarms “Asshole of the Year” award. But King concluded Trump was a racist—his embrace of  birther accusations against his beloved Obama was enough to guarantee that—and once Trump was elected, King became the Post’s counterpart to Trump-deranged Times columnist Charles M. Blow, except that King at his worst is usually more endurable than Blow at his best.

King’s latest anti-Trump screed, however, shows how far a smart pundit can fall when the cognitive dissonance scale and confirmation bias work in tandem, especially when old age marches on and one is mired in both work and personal bubbles where a single bias dominates.

The column begins with one of my least varieties of fake news, future news, when a journalist sets out to push a negative view of a politician based on what he will do.  The headline is “It’s a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here’s when that’s most likely.”

I don’t think it is a good bet, though it is certainly possible. King assumes it is a good bet, as his column makes clear (along with all of his previous columns relating to Trump) because he thinks of the President as a corrupt racketeer. King’s once nimble mind  is now incapable of imagining a justification for pardoning the “allies” in question, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort. I can: arguably all three of them were indicted and convicted because of the “resistance”effort to try to drive Donald Trump from office, and to send a message to anyone who might be of value to his administration that they would instantly be in cross-hairs if they dared to try to support the President. President  Trump might feel responsible for their plight, and use his absolute clemency power to relieve their burdens. If so, it would not be an unprecedented political or personal use of the pardon and clemency power. King reallywas just using this question as a pretense to vent about the President, whom he detests, shredding his own credibility in the process. For example, Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale: The Corruption Of Post Columnist Colbert King, Part I

Colbert King is 80 now, but he is still a regular columnist with the Washington Post. As a recent column demonstrated, he has finally fallen prey to the Post culture and no longer is what he once was: the rare pundit, in his case, a liberal one, who could be counted upon for fairness and integrity regardless of the topic. The one-two punches of Barack Obama and Donald Trump showed how cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias can corrupt the best of us, and make no mistake about it, King was once one of the best.

Although he is an African-American, he stood out for decades among his corruption- enabling black colleagues in consistently calling out the D.C. government’s corrupt leadership—notably Marion Barry but many others—on their arrogantly dishonest, venal and untrustworthy practices and attitudes.

Then Barack Obama happened. I listened in surprise on a local Sunday talking head show as King defended Barack Obama’s quiet, decades long assent to the black liberation (that is, anti-white, anti-American rantings of Reverend Wright, Obama’s “spiritual mentor.” Were these rationalizations I heard Colbert King uttering? King reliably mocked rationalizations, and yet here he was using them, notably “Everybody does it,” to defend  a black Presidential candidate’s approval and association with a black racist and demagogue.

Once Obama was elected, King got worse. Not only could Obama do no wrong, but those who criticized were enemies in his eyes; worse, King treated Obama’s appointees and cronies with similar reverence, a complete reversal from his approach to the  parade of incompetent or criminal black politicians in D.C.  Notably, he defended Obama “wing man” Eric Holder, the racialist Attorney General, when he was refusing to comply with a legitimate Congressional inquiry into the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco. His excuses for Holder and his attacks on Republicans were so redolent of partisan hackery that in 2012 I was moved to write my one-time Ethics Hero the “Open Letter”: Continue reading

Ethics Villains Of The Impeachment Coup, Part One

I admit it: just as I sensed that it was important for Ethics Alarms to lend ethical clarity to the potentially (and possibly already) disastrous effort by the Democratic Party to abuse its power and Constitutional processes to remove (that is, overthrow) the President of the United States, I was overcome with a crippling combination of unrelated professional responsibilities and crippling weariness. I’m sick of writing about this topic; I’m even sick of thinking about it. I’m definitely sick of arguing about it on social media. The tag “2016 post-election Ethics Train Wreck” has been appended to more posts than any other, with no end in sight.

I floated the idea of creating a spin-off website that would endeavor to provide one-stop shopping for members of the public who wanted to counter media spin and information suppression on the topic. I do think this is an important project, and I have received a few generous offers to help. I’m still trying to figure out if I have the time to do it right; if I don’t, then it would be unethical to do it at all.

The fact that some polls show that the relentless pro-impeachment propaganda has led to a majority of Americans believing the President should be impeached is troubling, though 1) polls, and 2) on this topic even more than others, all the number shows is how many ignorant Americans are willing to opine at the moment on topics they know nothing about. “Survey Finds More People Would Support Impeachment If They Knew What Crime Trump Was Supposed To Have Committed” snarked the Babylon Bee.

Exactly.

I have several longish essays that I need to write, notably one titled “The Ethics Context of the Trump Impeachment Push.” It should have been written last week, and I’ll be lucky if I can get it complete next week.  I know how important the Democratic Party/ “resistance” /mainstream media coup attempt is. As I have been writing here since January 2017, it is the most important ethics story of modern U.S. political history.

I’ve got to keep the analysis moving, even if it’s too slow.

Here, for reference purposes and future discussions, is a list of the Villains of the Impeachment Coup. Continue reading

Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/10/2019: Fat-Shaming, Race-Baiting, And Terrorist-Tarring [UPDATED]

ARRGH!! Half-way through the day, and not out of my pajamas yet!

1. Here’s the kind of comment that won’t get an aspiring  new commenter approved…From Erik Guettler: “It’s sad that you think you actually know anything about ethical behavior by criticizing Bill Maher, while Donald Trump’s the most unethical, openly racist and corrupt president Americans have ever had.”

The comment fails on many levels. To begin with, it’s stupid (there is a stupidity justification among the Ethics Alarms banning tenets.) Criticizing Maher for his frequent absence of functioning ethics alarms cannot make me think I know anything about ethical behavior. The opposite is true: it is because I am an ethicist that I criticize Maher, though it hardly requires an expert to recognize his unethical conduct.A relatively well-raised 17-year-old could do it.

Second, the comment breaches basic ethical analysis principles, not to mention common sense: President Trump’s conduct is irrelevant to how unethical Maher is, as is my criticism, or not, of the President. Third, his list of Trump failings is—oooh! Let me finally use this!NPC junk. Neither he nor anyone can find me any “openly racist” conduct or statements on the President’s part, for this is one of the Big Lies (#4, to be exact.) I have gone through this dance with many Trump Deranged Facebook friends. Challenged to back up the “openly racist” lie, they babble about how he challenged Obama’s birth certificate, and go downhill from there. The statement that he is the “most unethical” President, personally or professionally,  is proof of historical ignorance and bias. Unethical he is, but whether Trump’s lack of ethics is more or less substantive than that of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton is a matter of legitimate disagreement. The “corrupt” accusation is also non-substantive, unproven, and based on supposition and bias rather than evidence.

But never mind all that: the claim that Ethics Alarms has somehow ignored Donald Trump’s ethics deficits is so easily disproved that the insulting comment is an example of reckless disregard for the truth.

Bite me, Erik.

And don’t come back.

2. While we’re on the topic of Mr. Maher’s ethics…Here is the professional asshole in his most recent HBO episode:
Continue reading