In Which I Settle On The Ethical Response To A Popular Obnoxious Kiss-Off

Bite me

For the third time in a week, I experienced a newly popular faux-polite farewell, finally decided on the appropriate rejoinder, and executed it.

The offending statement is “You have a wonderful day!” and its many variations, uttered by someone who has behaved jerkishly, has been told so, and who doesn’t have the guts or integrity to apologize or acknowledge that he or she might have been wrong. It’s a sarcastic comment that means the exact opposite of what its literal words convey, deliberately contrived so that the speaker can feign innocence if he or she gets a harsh response, and can smirk inwardly for pinching off an adversarial encounter with a coded “Up yours!”

I don’t know when this trick became a fad, but it has. For some reason, everyone who has used it on me has been female. It is a passive-aggressive device. I first became aware of the “You have a wonderful day!” ploy when the staff at a doctor’s office informed me as I went in for scheduled treatment that I would have to pay many thousands of dollars on the spot though they never notified me of this in advance. After pointing out that I found their conduct unacceptable and unprofessional, that their explanation was dishonest, and that I would no longer be using their employer’s services, the snottiest of the desk staff fake-smiled and chirped, “You have a wonderful day!”

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto ‘Blazing Saddles’”

I would not have expected mysterious veteran commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod to be the one to score a Comment of the Day regarding the idiotic and offensive “trigger warning” HBO Max felt it had to append to “Blazing Saddles.” Mel Brooks’ satire (and fart jokes) would not seem to the kind of thing a squid from another plane of existence would be able to appreciate. Shows what I know.

But seriously folks, this is the first ethical analysis of “Blazing Saddles” I’ve ever seen, heard, or imagined. And as usual with EC, it is thoughtful and enlightening.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod ‘s Comment of the Day on hate, contempt, and  the post, “HBO Max Adds A Disclaimer For Morons Onto ‘Blazing Saddles’”:

On the one hand, I agree with the people ridiculing the disclaimer. On the other hand, if it gets more people to watch the film and learn to appreciate satire, I’m in favor of a little message at the beginning that says, “It’s okay, you’re not a bad person for watching this film.” I’d like to get to the point where we don’t need the disclaimer, though.

When you mention hate and contempt, it makes me realize that most of what people refer to as “hate” is actually contempt, and that sloppy language prevents them from realizing what they want and what they need to do to get it. People don’t just want to eliminate “hate”—they want to be respected. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Richard Schwartz, Responsible Citizen, And How His Experience Explains Donald Trump

Want to know why people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more, so they decide to vote for anyone who appears to be outside the elite cabal that pretends to deliver “democracy?” Here’s a striking example.

During a public comment period during a Seattle city council meeting, Richard Schwartz came to the podium to make his case. He was troubled, as he should have been, that most of the council members were not looking at him, or appeared to be listening. Most were looking at their computer screens or smart phones, scrolling and apparently doing other tasks, or looking at porn, for all he knew. So instead of meekly accepting the disrespect and rudeness of his elected municipal representatives, he called them on it.

“It’s real discouraging to come up here and see all the heads down…,” he began, but Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who was presiding,  interrupted , saying “You’re on a two minute timer here, so let’s go.”

Schwartz professed puzzlement at the response, and after standing silently for several seconds, he asked,

“So it was unreasonable for me to ask that people look up and give me their attention?” Juarez answered by telling him that he only had only a minute and 30 seconds left, and lying, saying that he had their attention, when he obviously did not.

Discarding his prepared statement, since it was obvious that the City Council would only observe its obligation to take public comments in form rather than in good faith, Schwartz said that this was why he came to comment: “the state of our democracy.”  He pointed out that when State Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) spoke in a public comment session the previous week,  she was four or fine minutes and the council was attentive, while everyone else at that session was limited to a single minute.

“It reminded me of George Orwell’s famous line from ‘Animal Farm’ about how all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” Schwartz continued. And that’s how I feel like I’m being treated now, just because I was kind of asking for your attention, like I noticed you all were very attentive to Ms. Jaypal last week. And I immediately got a hostile response back from you. I don’t understand that.”

With no response, he asked the council members if they ever responded to constituents.  Juarez told him his time was nearly up, as her colleagues either tended to their phones or looked bored.

“Well, it’s all on tape and I think it’s a pretty sad commentary that you think that asking for you guys to look up off of your computers and give attention during the short period of time was an unreasonable thing,”  Schwartz  said. “I really feel bad about that.”

He should feel bad about that. We all should. Democracy doesn’t work when elected officials treat the public this way; it can’t. This is democracy in name only. The stunning thing is that Seattle’s city council is so corrupted by their own sense of entitlement, wisdom and certitude that no ethics alarms pinged when an engaged voter begged them to pay attention to him for a couple of minutes.

For a second straight post, let me reference this November 9 whine-fest by feminist Jessica Valenti called, “How do I tell my daughter that America elected a racist, sexist bully?” Continue reading

Morning Warm-Up, 12/9/17: Let’s Hate The President! Edition

Good Morning!

It’s snowing in Alexandria, Virginia!

1 Obviously,racial division works. The President of the United States quite appropriately and necessarily accepted an invitation to attend the opening on the  new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum today. So many black dignitaries then announced that they would boycott the event as a result, however, that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the White House agreed to hold a separate private program for Trump as a compromise.

You know. Separate but equal.

The disrespect for the Presidency and democracy shown by so many black Democrats since the election, low-lighted by the Congressional Black caucus’s divisive and offensive boycott of the Inauguration has succeeded in propelling race relations in the U.S. backwards. Prime among the offenders is Rep. John Lewis, the “civil rights icon,” as he is routinely referred to in the press, an angry, bitter, hyper-partisan who sees a racism in any policy or position he doesn’t like. Lewis, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Rep. Bennie Thompson and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, were among the first to announce that they wouldn’t extend the courtesy to the elected President of the United States to stand with him to honor the civil rights movement and the heroes who laid the foundation of racial equality in our nation.

What is the alleged justifications for this insult, which only exacerbates the dangerous racial tensions in the U.S., which were recklessly manipulated for political gain by Democrats during the Obama administration?

The “racism” of unambiguously opposing illegal immigration and calling Islamic terrorism Islamic…

The President’s support for voter IDs and efforts to prevent voter fraud…

Trump’s refusal to be pressured into condemning a legal, First Amendment protected protest of the removal of Confederate statues after police allowed the protesters to be attacked by antifa thugs in a counter-demonstration. He said both sides were at fault. They were…

The President’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, because opposing the signature botch of the first black President makes you a racist, and

The President’s public criticism of the incoherent Kaepernicking by NFL players.

None of these individually or collectively are evidence of a lack of support for civil rights or racial comity. Lewis and the rest are harming the nation and their own cause by their effort to “otherize” the President.

2. Nurturing a culture of contempt.  Newsweek decided that the death of Vice President Pence’s beloved cat Pickle justified this headline: “Mike Pence’s Pets Won’t Stop Dying” A commenter wrote,

You are a trash publication. And in a piece that ostensibly tries to represent the fact that the Pence family has lost some old, but long beloved pets, as well as tell us who the new pets are, you bury that content under a headline that is nothing short of gloating, hateful, sociopathic, and cruel…

Ah, but “the resistance” loves it, and that’s the target audience.

3. A news media double standard note. Both President Clinton and Barack Obama promised in their campaigns to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. Both failed to keep their pledges. Trump made the same promise, and kept it. The overwhelming verdict by the news media and pundits: he’s a reckless fool, because if Trump does it, it must be bad. Unless you can detect another reason…

4.  Somebody tell Professor Butler. You will recall that when I explained to NPR’s Michel Martin that a woman who viewed a sexual advance as welcome decades ago could suddenly decide it wasn’t and accuse Donald trump (or Al Franken) of sexual harassment years later, my fellow panel member Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler interjected, “Come on!”

Legendary Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model Paulina Porizkova, whose career peaked  in the Eighties, told an interviewer that sexual harassment was such an ingrained part of the modeling business that it was viewed by the models as a “compliment.”  After all, if nobody was hitting on you, maybe you weren’t as hot as you thought you were. Some, though far from all, of the #MeToo mob’s witch hunt is based on a sanctification of “presentism,” imposing current standards on past conduct. It is not politically correct to admit it. Good for Paulina.

5. CNN Fake News Update. The arrogance of CNN in the wake of its misreporting of a story to make it appear as incriminating as possible for the Trump campaign is signature significance, and would be enlightening for the public if any mainstream media sources reported it. How ironic!

  • Behold!

That’s right. President Trump is lying again. CNN isn’t sorry it falsely told the nation that there was what sure seemed like smoking gun evidence of his collusion with the Russians, and CNN didn’t apologize. Is it fair to say ABC’s Brian Ross, who sparked a Dow Jones panic by another anti-Trump false report, should have been fired, rather than banned from reporting on anything Trump related? Gee, tough question. Should a senior reporter who can’t be trusted to report accurately and fairly on the President of the United States continue to be employed by major news organization? That’s a real puzzler!

  • And recall this, from yesterday..

Stelter’s CNN show, by the by, is called “Reliable Sources.” That Brian, the media ethics watchdog! Such a kidder!

  • The Federalist’s Molly Hemingway has “some questions for CNN to answer to restore trust between the reporters on the story, editors on the story, the news organization itself, and viewers and readers.”  If CNN was a responsible and ethical news organization, it would answer them. It won’t, of course. In fact, if CNN were ethical, it would have answered Hemingway’s questions already.

1. Did CNN ever see the email before running the story on it?

2. Does CNN believe it’s ethical to write about a document and not let readers and viewers know up front that reporters and editors haven’t seen the document?

3. If CNN didn’t see the email, who told CNN about it?

4. Why did CNN believe these sources?

5. Were they Democratic Members of Congress on the House Select Committee on Intelligence leaking information from this week’s testimony?

6. Were they staff of these members?

7. Are these sources independent or in the same office or otherwise related to each other?

8. What other stories have these individuals sourced for CNN and what dates were they published?

9. What is being done to check these stories out for inaccuracies?

10. How many of these stories related to the Russia investigation?

11. How many other stories has CNN reported where it never actually saw the documents it reported as fact?

12. Can CNN point to another big story anchored to documents that its journalists haven’t authenticated?

13. Will the reporters on this story continue to cover this beat? If so, why?

14. Which editors worked on and approved this story?

15. How will editorial processes on Russia conspiracy stories change going forward to avoid similar errors?

16. Given that the story is meaningless, as corrected, why hasn’t the story been retracted in its entirety?

17. Will CNN use these sources in the future? If so, why? If not, how can readers be sure they are not used as future sources?

18. Given the seriousness of their error and the damage they caused to the reputation of the news outlet, will CNN out the sources? If not, why not?

6. Not joking, unfortunately...On the other hand, if none of the above troubles you as a fair and patriotic American, this company will sell you this charming and inspirational ornament to crown your Christmas tree…

Each purchase comes with a priority admission to a mental heath facility.

Or should.

_________________

Pointer: Instapundit

 

Rationalization List Update: 29 (a). The Gruber Variation and 47. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense”

Remember the TV show fondly...hate the rationalization.

Remember the TV show fondly…hate the rationalization.

In the midst of the disturbing revelation—via Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s many videos— that our government thinks that passing laws that have a large impact on our lives should be accomplished by conning us, as well as the discouraging realization that many of our Democratic and progressive friends and neighbors agree, there are some good things to come out of Gruber’s clarification of how the Affordable Care Act was enacted. We know, for example, that at least one of the major political parties no longer believes in American democracy as it was intended to be practiced, with an informed electorate and a civicly literate citizenry. That’s good to know, just as while it is horrible to have one’s house is infested with scorpions, it is still better to know it than not. We now also know that a substantial part of the news media is in cahoots with these democracy deniers—as of last night, for example, neither NBC nor ABC had broached the topic of the Gruber videos, a full week after they had become public. Again, that’s horrible, but we need to be aware of it, and it is good that we are.

Among the silver linings in this particularly threatening cloud is that it alerted me to two more—well, one and a half more—rationalizations for the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List. They have many applications beyond the Affordable Care Act. Say hello to 29 (a). The Gruber Variation, and 47. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense.”

The Gruber Variation doesn’t warrant its own category, but it is a very specific riff on 29. The Altruistic Switcheroo: “It’s for his own good, which is described on the list thusly:

“This rationalization is a pip, because it allows one to frame self-serving, unethical conduct as an act of good will and generosity. Cheating the young sprout will teach him to be more careful the next time, and it’s just a pleasant coincidence that you benefit from the deception. It is true that misfortune carries many life lessons, that what doesn’t kill us often makes us stronger, and that what hurts today may be the source of valuable wisdom and perspective later, but it really takes a lot of gall to cheat, lie to, steal from or otherwise harm someone and claim it will be a good thing in the long term. Yet an amazingly large number of people possess this much gall, because the Altruistic Switcheroo is very common, especially among parents who want to convince themselves that bad parenting is really the opposite. A marker for this rationalization is the statement, “You’ll thank me some day”—the specious theory of the sadistic parent who named his son “Sue” in the famous Shel Silverstein song made famous by Johnny Cash. No, he won’t.”

The Gruber Variation adds contempt to the mix, as it uses the presumed mental inadequacy of a victim to justify manipulating him: Continue reading

How Trust Dies, Part I: The D.C.’s Election Commission’s Brazen Jumbo

DC Voters Guide

That’s the real D.C. flag on the right. I think it looks better upside down too…

[Jumbo: a Jumbo is a special Ethics Alarms award for conduct that emulates the gag from the Broadway musical and film “Jumbo,” in which Jimmy Durante, as a circus clown trying to steal an elephant, is caught red-handed by a sheriff, and asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” “Elephant? What elephant?,” Jimmy replied.]

As readers who travel here often know, I really hate, hate, hate obvious lies. They are cowardly, they are insulting, and when they are authored by public officials, they recklessly foster public cynicism and distrust. You can’t do your job right, and you don’t even know when it’s pointless to lie? Why should we trust you to be able to do anything right?

Of course, we shouldn’t.

You will seldom see a more blatant and embarrassing example of the desperate, immediately apparent lie than this one from the District of Columbia Board of Elections after it mailed out 305,164  copies of the official D.C. voter guide with the D.C. flag on the front cover printed upside-down. This immediately provoked much local media, pundit and social media hilarity and mockery, but no, announced the Board. This was no lazy clerical error from the government famous for them. This was intentional! A devilishly clever strategy!

The election board’s  spokeswoman, Denise Tolliver explained that the upside-down flag was a deliberate move—an upside-down flag is a distress signal, after all—to grab the attention of voters and “see how many clicks we can get.” “People are responding, aren’t they?” Tolliver said. “They’re paying attention. It’s working!”

Nobody believed it, of course, because the only idiot in the conversation was her, and, by proxy, her superiors. Eventually  the board’s executive director, Clifford Tatum, confessed. “No, this is an error,” he e-mailed a D.C. Council member. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Presidential Spokesman Josh Earnest

Websters

“I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary with me up here.”

—-White House Spokesman Josh Earnest, in response to a reporter’s question regarding the President’s definition of “victory” in the conflict with ISIS.

The statement itself is only slightly less outrageous than the fact that it has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. I’m using Politico for the link, a slightly left-leaning political news website. The primary links on the web go to Fox (of course), RealClearPolitics, The Weekly Standard, PJ Media, the Washington Times, and The Blaze. No ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, or Daily Beast. There is no excuse for this. It is blatantly irresponsible, and terrible, biased, negligent journalism. Not only does the public have a right to know what the objectives are in Iraq, the public has a right to know how arrogant and incompetent its leadership is. I think Earnest’s performance provides a definitive answer: Very.
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When U.S. Officials Channel Orwell, U.S. Citizens Have An Ethical Obligation To Object Loudly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I recognize that President Obama and his entire administration feel they are hostage to an infantile, irresponsible, pacifist  “base” that cringes at the concept of the kind of combat that might occasionally be necessary to preserve our liberty and keep the evil in the world at bay. (I also recognize that the Paul faction in the Republican Party is similarly addled.) That our leaders cater to such confusion is regrettable, indeed, frightening, since it means that they value the welfare of the nation and the world less than the objective of keeping their most naive and ignorant supporters happy. (The alternative, that they feel the same way as this historically unschooled mass is too horrible to contemplate, and I just refuse to believe it.) But when kowtowing to the delusion causes our leaders to embrace Orwellian language designed to declare the opposite of truth in pursuit of political advantage, even those cheered by the fantasy have an obligation, as citizens and as responsible human beings with brains, to protest.

Secretary of State John Kerry just denied that dropping bombs on a state constitutes warfare. WAR IS PEACE, you see. Continue reading

Jumbo* of The Month: Hillary Clinton

Charging Elephant

“The claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into Eastern Ukraine because they had protect the Russia minorities—that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere throughout Europe. So I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective. I’m not making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.”

—-Hillary Clinton on the Crimea crisis, showing that she has learned deceit and dishonesty at Bill’s knee, or, perhaps, was really the teacher all along.

‘I’m not making a comparison: I’m just comparing them. I’m not saying Putin is like Hitler, I’m just saying he’s acting like Hitler. I’m not making a comparison; I just want to evoke the specter of Hitler’s expansion over Europe while everyone looked the other way without being accused of doing so.’

And adding “certainly” makes it all undeniable.

Some observations, in the throes of disgust: Continue reading

Now THIS Is Incivility!

"Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements."

“Thank you, counselors. We will proceed to fucking closing statements.”

I just saw a  local Boston TV ad for Ace Tickets. The slogan at the end was “Sit your Ace down!” So clever! Just throw gratuitous vulgarity into a commercial during a baseball game, doubtlessly viewed by many children, because it’s inherently amusing. The message is that vulgarity is cool, clever and acceptable. Other messages in the media, both in advertising and in pop culture, convey the same permissive standards regarding obscenity. Over on the Drudge Report, a much-admired news aggregator for  political junkies, especially on the right, no mention of Anthony Weiner’s annoying candidacy for Mayor of New York is made without a cheap “weiner” joke. Today, Drudge noted that Weiner was “inching up” in the polls. Get it? HAR!  Just under that “gag,” the news that men favored Weiner in polling was headlined “Male Enhancement.” Soooo witty!  The U.S. is being transformed into one huge junior high school. After growing up in such a vulgar, undignified, sleazy environment, the next generation won’t be prone to inadvertently use words like “fuck” and “shit” in public forums such as live award shows and TV interviews, like our current politicians, newscasters and celebrities. They’ll just use them intentionally, all the time. Won’t that be cool? I’m sure David Letterman thinks so. Cool Dave had A.J. Clemente, he of uttering “fucking shit” on the airways in his debut as a news anchor, as a guest on his show. Dave suggested to A.J. that his ex-bosses were jerks to fire him. Good point Dave! A.J. was just ahead of his time. In a decade or so, “fucking shit” may be the sign-off of the next generation’s Walter Cronkite.

Maybe less than  a decade. Note this account, in a court opinion, of a lawyer’s conduct before a magistrate: Continue reading