Ethics Update: The Frontrunners

the-three-stooges6

There was ample evidence over the past week that all three of the candidates currently leading their respective party’s races for the presidential nomination are unqualified for the office by virtue of their deficiencies of competence, character, and principles. Hillary Clinton had the most spectacularly revealing week, but first, the other two….

Donald Trump: Hubris, incompetence, disrespect and unfairness

1. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump boasted at a campaign rally yesterday. I know, it’s a joke. It’s also an astoundingly stupid thing to say, even in jest, and reveals massive hubris, the quality that brought down many a Greek king and the worst and most dangerous of all Trump flaws. This is what will get him, sooner or later. 3000 years of history and literature teach us that. The comment also reveals utter contempt for his supporters; he is essentially calling them blind morons. The crowd in Iowa laughed….because they are.

2.“Our great veterans are being treated terribly,” Trump says in a new campaign video. “The corruption in the Veteran’s administration, the incompetence is beyond. We will stop that.” Then critics pointed out that the clips used showed Russian veterans, not Americans, and he pulled the ad.

This is the man whose only claim to legitimacy is his management wizardry. Such an error, however, is proof of sloppy oversight and incompetent delegation. Moreover, this is the second time a Trump campaign ad  included mislabeled material: his illegal immigration ad earlier this month used footage of people crossing the Moroccan border to represent the U.S.-Mexico border. Conclusion: he’s faking it, “it” meaning everything. This is all posturing and bluffing, like a student taking an exam for a course he never studied for. Continue reading

Pre-Election Ethics Quiz: The Campaign Fortune Cookie

I have not authored the usual number of unethical campaign tactics indictments this time around. One reason is that their desperation while facing an almost certain GOP wipe-out has led Democratic Party candidates into far more questionable devices than the confident Republicans as the Blues have increasingly defaulted to race-baiting, Koch brothers attacks, scare-mongering on everything from guns to contraception, and the “war on women” chorus. Combine that with the popular integrity breach of  Democratic incumbants virtually pretending that they never heard of the Democratic President in the White House, and I was faced with giving more ammunition to those who accuse me of partisan bias. Looking at the poll projections, it appears that the worst offenders—Wendy Davis, Allison Grimes, Mark Udall, and Mary Landrieu among them—will get their just desserts from voters without additional alarms from me.

Speaking of desserts: this campaign tactic is worthy of note. A loyal Rhode Island reader inquires if I have any ethical problems with the campaign of Allen Fung, the Chinese-American GOP candidate in the closely contested Rhode Island governor’s race, delivering thousands of fortune cookies to Rhode Island Chinese restaurants that look like this when you open them

fortune-cookie-fung

So your Ethics Alarms Pre-Election Ethics Quiz is the question asked of me:

Is there anything unethical about this?

Continue reading

Happy Halloween! Scary Unethical Quote Of The Week: MSNBC Host Alex Wagner

“In Georgia, state Democrats printed a flyer warning that the way to prevent “another Ferguson” is to vote. Arkansas residents meanwhile, received a mailer showing a man in a hands-up, don’t shoot position made infamous in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing. The mailer reads: “If we want to end senseless killings like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we need to vote . . . It’s important to say that it shouldn’t have to be the threat of undermining civil rights that gets people to vote, but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it.”

—MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner, acknowledging the desperate, last-ditch effort by the Democratic Party to energize its African-American base by racial fear-mongering, and endorsing it in epic “the ends justify the means” fashion.

Wagner: 'Race-baiting makes us strong.' Wow.

Wagner: ‘Race-baiting makes us strong.’
Wow.

I remember my father announcing during the Nixon re-election campaign that the cynical GOP “Southern strategy” is which it catered to old-line Southern Democratic voters with direct appeals to racist myths and fears that he was changing his registered party affiliation from Republican to Independent, because he refused to belong to a party that would engage in such divisive and despicable tactics just to win elections. It is hard to imagine any conservative-leaning broadcaster, commenting on these scare-tactics at the time, both acknowledging them and pronouncing them regrettable but, all in all, good for the party. Yet this is exactly what Wagner did.

It exposes many things: the ethical deficit at MSNBC, progressive approval of the strategy of exacerbating racial discord and division in America, and the open, seven year-long strategy of Democrats resorting to race-baiting as the solution of last resort whenever the party’s performance and policies are subjected to fair criticism. The statement also exposes partisans like Wagner as ethics corruptors of all who hear them and are gullible enough to believe they speak the truth. Winning by lies and undermining racial comity in America makes nothing and nobody stronger. Even if such a tactic is successful in the short-term, it is devastating to democracy and the culture. No party that stoops to such gutter tactics is worthy of support by anyone who believes in basic ethical values.

The New York Times was finally revolted sufficiently by the conduct of its party of choice that it wrote about the recent spate of race-baiting campaign messages being used in close contests around the nation by the deservedly desperate Democrats: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Wendy Davis’s Controversial “Wheelchair Ad” Attacking Greg Abbott

1. The campaign of Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has issued an attack ad directly referencing gubernatorial rival Greg Abbott’s partial paralysis, and includes the image of an empty wheelchair. Davis could claim—and will, if she hasn’t already–that  the implication that his use of a wheelchair argues against his qualifications to be governor is inadvertent or imagined, except that her supporters were caught in a Project Veritas video mocking Abbott for his disability, and Davis has made gaffes relating to his handicap before, as when she said that he hadn’t “walked a day in her shoes.”

2. She is a member of a party with supporters in the media ready to pounce on any Republican who makes a similarly provocative reference to an opposing candidate’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender or “abled status.” The double standard is certainly a campaign boon to Democrats, but they have to take advantage of it a bit more subtly than this.

3. What is primarily wrong with the ad, however, isn’t the wheelchair, or the use of tactics that would called an appeal to bigotry if they were used by Republicans. It is that the arguments the ad seem to be making are stupid, unfair and wrong, and ones that Davis, who is a lawyer, must know are stupid and wrong, or she is stupid and wrong. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Republican Governors Association…And An Integrity Test For Chris Christie

This ugly beast keeps raising its head out of the muck, and it is the duty of every citizen, Republican or Democrat, who believes in justice and due process under law to beat it back with heavy clubs.

The Republican Governors Association is defending one of its own, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, with a series of ads attacking state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, an attorney who is her Democratic opposition in the gubernatorial race. The message of the ad, as summarized by  a voice-over, is that “Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women and went to work setting them free.”

False. Continue reading

To Hell With Godwin’s Law: As The Cynical “GOP War On Women” Strategy Officially Adopts “Big Lie” Tactics, Who Will Have The Integrity To Call It What It Is?

Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

Sorry. Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

One thing one can’t deny about the “Big Lie,” it sure works.

An H. F. Elson from Bethesda, Maryland indignantly writes the editor of the Washington Post:

“The April 10 news article “Senate Republicans block wage-equality legislation” reported that Republicans “say that the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.” Pardon my sarcasm, but existing laws have worked really well, haven’t they? Republicans fear the bill would increase civil lawsuits, but the threat of lawsuits is the only way to get these needed changes in compensation made. When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”

Let’s see…it’s hard to write such an incompetent and irresponsible letter while simultaneously being snotty about it, but H.F. was up to the challenge:

1. Discrimination based on gender IS already illegal. The law in question was Democratic showboating with a bad bill that would permit lawsuits when no evidence of intentional gender discrimination exists.

2. Yes, H.F., the existing laws have worked very well indeed. The remaining differences in pay by gender are almost entirely due to factors other than discrimination.

3. The only way to get the changes made in compensation would be for women to behave exactly like men, and adopt the same priorities and career paths. Lawsuits, on the other hand, are just a way to increase the costs of doing business, lose jobs, and give more money to trial lawyers—who are overwhelmingly male, by the way.

4. “When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”  The real question is when will “thinking, intelligent women” stop accepting on faith outright misrepresentations about gender pay inequities, and do some research before adopting partisan talking points and writing snotty letters to the editor?

There are virtually no serious analysts of this topic that accept the proposition that “women get paid only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same jobs” as an accurate measure of discrimination in the workplace and gender inequity. The misleading nature of that statistic and similar ones has been thoroughly explained and vetted in scholarly documents and the news media for decades, yet whenever Democrats want to activate their “base,” which includes a disproportionate number of women, their candidates and leaders shamelessly use the same dishonest figures. Obama and Biden used this tactic during the 2012 sliming of Mitt Romney, for example, because, after all, the ends justify the means, and besides, mean old Romney kept all those poor women in binders.

I just about fell off of my chair when President Obama sank to this abysmal deceit again in his 2014 State of the Union message, when he intoned, Continue reading

The Reasonable, Ethical Firing of Maria Conchita Alonso

V_logo_currenteventsOnce again we confront a variation of the “Duck Dynasty” issue of entertainers losing their jobs over their expression of political, religious or other opinions that have nothing to do with their performances.

Actress María Conchita Alonso, who has been an outspoken advocate of conservative  policies on occasion, was recruited by the camp of the Tea Party candidate for governor of California, Tim Donnelly, to appear in a campaign video.  Donnelly is a hardliner on illegal immigration, or as supporters of open borders and stolen U.S. benefits of citizenship like to call it to blur the issues, “undocumented workers.”  Following the ad’s debut, many Hispanic residents of San Francisco protested and threatened to boycott the Brava Theater Center’s production of a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” which was starred the actress.

Not any more. Alonso “resigned”from the cast—actually she was the cast, since “The Vagina Monologues” is a one actress show—which means she was forced to quit or be fired. Continue reading