Ethics Observations On This Hilarious Trolling Competition

  • The President  wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.

The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.

  • It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?

Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?

Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.

Ethics values: Honesty, integrity, competence, diligence. Continue reading

Fairness To Pete Buttigieg

Yeah, this kind of thing does not engender trust…

Yikes. Just as he is surging in the Iowa polls, “It” guy Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign organization made an epic botch of sufficient scope as to raise competence, honesty and responsibility questions.

On October 24, Buttigieg released an op-ed claiming more than 400 South Carolinians had endorsed his “Douglass Plan for Black America.”  The mayor of South Bend  has a strained relationship with African Americans, so this was obviously an important initiative. The problem: the three black politicians listed at the top of his press release never endorsed his him, and while the campaign had implied otherwise, 40 % of the endorsement names listed were not black but white. “There is one presidential candidate who has proven to have intentional policies designed to make a difference in the Black experience, and that’s Pete Buttigieg. We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate,” the press release read.

The Intercept interviewed the three black politicians and determined that none of them endorsed Buttigieg. Only one of the three endorsed his plan, which includes reparations for slavery.

Incredibly,  Buttigieg’s campaign sent out an email telling black politicians they needed to opt out if they did not want their name on the endorsement list. That’s outrageous. No candidate can assume an affirmative endorsement because an individual doesn’t explicitly deny one. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, “June Had Better Be Better Than May” Edition: Wait, CNN Is Condemning Double Standards? [UPDATED]

Good morning…

1. How low can the New York Times go?  Even lower than I thought...In today editorial, the Times editorial board complains about President Trump’s pardon of conservative writer  Dinesh D’Souza, whom it describes as a “right-wing troll.” Okay…and by that kind of measure, the entire Times editorial staff is a collective left-wing troll. The Times notes that D’Souza is “known for, among other things, posting racist tweets about President Barack Obama [ The Times identified a single “racist tweet,” but in any event, such tweets are not illegal]  spreading the lie that George Soros was a Nazi collaborator [ Not a lie, just an unfair characterization that D’Souza may genuinely believe. Lying is also not illegal, and the Times should be grateful for this given its own proclivities] and writing that “the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well” [ An opinion, if an obnoxious one, and also not illegal.] So what? None of that justifies D’Souza’s prosecution on a technical election law violation that many found to be politically motivated and pushed by those who took offense at, well, exactly what the Times cited about him. Bill Clinton, during the 2016 primaries, openly violated the law by politicking for Hillary at a polling place in Massachusetts without any consequences. That was selective non-prosecution if the offense was usually enforced, and would have been selective, suspicious prosecution if he had been charged when most violators are not. There are good reasons, in other words, to believe that an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat gadfly was targeted vindictively by the Obama administration to chill his political speech. Trump’s pardon is defensible, if provocative. Then the Times writes,

“The tendency of presidents of both parties to reward cronies with clemency — from Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton’s of the financier Marc Rich — is one Washington tradition that we’d welcome Mr. Trump smashing.”

You read that correctly. The New York Times just sunk to a new low, which is quite an achievement, comparing Gerald Ford’s brave, wise, and politically ruinous pardon of Richard Nixon for the good of the nation (and it was good for the nation, while a protracted political show trial of a disgraced President would not have been) to Bill Clinton’s probably criminal pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, whose ex-wife coincidentally followed up Clinton’s  defiantly perverse  act with a huge financial gift to Clinton’s Presidential library.

2. How to invalidate an apology in one, stupid step. Yesterday “Cunt”-Hurler Samantha Bee apologized “sincerely” for her scurrilous attack on Ivanka Trump after it began to appear that her incivility might lose her show some sponsors. Then she almost immediately showed how sincerely ( as in “not one bit”) at last night’s award ceremony, as the Television Academy  honored Bee’s  “Full Frontal”  for “advancing social change” (as in ‘pushing partisan anger and hate to the point where a civil war is no longer unthinkable.’ Yay Samantha!). Her award should have been cancelled, of course, and by awarding it to Bee anyway, the Academy tacitly endorsed the position that Ivanka Trump is a “feckless cunt.” Continue reading

Ethics Update : Donald, Hillary, Ted and Bernie


It’s time once again to examine the latest ethics escapades of our four front-runners to be the next President of the United States:

Donald Trump

Well, what do you know? Despite turning the last Republican debate into a “Bush lied, people died” bloodbath of accusations right out of and asserting that his judgment is superior because he opposed the Iraq invasion “from the start,” Donald Trump in fact did support the war “from the start.” Newly re-discovered tapes from the Howard Stern show reveal the shock jock asking Trump, “Are you for invading Iraq?” and Trump replying, “Yeah, I guess so.” Asked at town hall forum by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about the statement,  Trump responded: “I could have said that.”

Well, it’s on tape, Donald; you did say that.

Trump then insisted that his past support for the war did not matter because “by the time the war started I was against it.”

Oh, after the war started you were against it! 1) Prove it. 2) If someone makes public statements on all sides of controversies, does that allow them to pick whichever one turns out to be correct after the fact? Or does it just mean that the individual is an untrustworthy, dishonest, feckless hack?

It’s a rhetorical question.

Trump blew up the last debate and wounded his entire party based on a misrepresentation.

What utter scum this man is!

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Continue reading

Ethics Conundrums From “The Fick Of the Month’s” Fake Black Campaign Strategy

Big deal. Bill and Hillary ran as a faithful and loving married couple...

Big deal. Bill and Hillary ran as a faithful and loving married couple…

It’s not the seat of great power, true, but the strategy Republican Dave Wilson employed to win on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees is ethically indefensible. Wilson, who is a prominent conservative politician who once ran for mayor and who has made a name for himself with anti-gay rhetoric,  won a seat  on the board by 26 votes after deceiving some less attentive voters in his predominantly African-American district that he was “one of them.

His election materials contained photographs of smiling black faces, lifted off the web, captioned “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” One particularly deceitful mailer said he had been “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” invoking the name of former African-American state representative. But just like the ads and TV commercials for weight loss products, Dave Wilson’s flier contained fine print that made the misrepresentation “honest.” Instead of “Results not typical,” the campaign flier’s tiny disclaimer said, “Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins,” a reference to one of Wilson’s relatives living in Iowa who is also named “Ron.”

Wilson can be safely accorded status as a fick*—he is openly amused by the fact that his lie assisted in his election, and shows no remorse at all. He also invokes the “everybody does it” rationalization, saying, “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters.”  The news media and the blogosphere is joyfully flogging Wilson for his stunt, and he deserves every lash. The episode, however raises some uncomfortable ethical issues that require objective thought and consideration: Continue reading

Integrity Check For Obama Supporters: Is This Really How You Want The Campaign To Go?

On the heels of Newark Mayor Corey Booker’s criticism of the Obama campaign’s anti-Bain ad and his subsequent simpering recant, an interesting thing happened: some people actually checked the ad for fairness and accuracy…never mind that it was widely interpreted as an anti-capitalist statement in the world’s most successful capitalist nation. Part of the impetus for the check was loyal Democratic consultant and spin-master Lanny Davis announcing on television that the ad was deceptive in more ways than one.

If you have not seen the spot, here it is:

It tells the story of the demise of  GS Industries through interviews with sad-eyed, salt-of-the-earth workers who accuse Bain of buying their town’s small steel company to destroy it. 30-year steelworker Joe Soptic tells the camera,  “They made as much money off it as they could. And they closed it down, they filed for bankruptcy without any concern for the families or the communities.” Jack Cobb, a another steelworker, calls Bain “a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us.” Things were going fine, they all say, until Bain Capital, under the leadership of Mitt Romney, bought the company and soon sold them down the river, laying everyone off and pocketing a huge profit. How that would work…how buying a company and its equipment and then quickly shutting it down would be profitable….is never explained, because actual information is irrelevant to the makers of the ad. The point of the Obama campaign is to contrast the intercut video of Mitt Romney saying he created jobs with the weather-beaten faces of hard-working Americans who say he threw them out of work to funnel money to his rich friends.

Deceit, you’ll recall, is when one uses facts to deceive, usually by omitting other facts that make the revealed facts understandable. Deceit is a form of lying, a very effective and insidious form. President Obama’s anti-Bain ad is, beyond question, deceitful, and deceptive, which means that in this instance at least, so is he. For he, Barack Obama, “approved this message.” Continue reading

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Recants

Don’t feel bad, Mayor. Galileo understands.

When, I wonder, will the political parties realize that having spokespersons with proven credibility and integrity, who will speak the truth and not embrace cynical, misleading talking points, can only help the parties’ causes? Based on the sad Corey Booker episode, I’m guessing the answer is “Never.”

The Obama campaign, taking its cue from New Gingrich (which itself is disturbing), put out what can only be called an anti-capitalism ad, condemning Mitt Romney’s leadership of  Bain Capital, a private investment firm that acquires companies, streamlines and repairs them to make them profitable, or liquidates them if they are not. The ad relies on breath-taking ignorance of how investment and business creation works, but fits nicely into the Occupy Wall Street mythology. For a President trying, theoretically, to get the economy humming again, it was a stunning example of campaign deceit.

Cory Booker is Newark’s Democratic mayor, a devoted Obama supporter, and like his state’s Republican Governor Chris Cristie, remarkably willing to tell the truth, for someone in his field. On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Booker pronounced the Bain ad “nauseating”:

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this [the ad], to me, I’m very uncomfortable with….I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital.” Continue reading