Michael R. has been a stand-out commenter at Ethics Alarms since the blog’s inception. He also has been missing in action for more than a year. Thus it was a pleasure not only to see him back on the field of ethics battle, but arriving with a Comment of the Day. Michael takes off from the discussion of the national reaction to Stephen Paddock’s puzzling rampage to examine the state of trust in our society. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/3/2017: In the Wake Of Las Vegas…
Tag Archives: credibility
1. The Pope gave an interview saying, in Italian of course, that the United States of America, which he offensively grouped with Russia, China, North Korea and Syria, have “a distorted vision of the world.”
The Pope, who has spent the bulk of his adult life seeing the world through the narrowly focused lense of the Catholic Church, and who hails from a South American leftist state, thinks that the United States has a distorted view of the world. Wow. Besides the stunning hubris of this pronouncement, the Pope is engaging in an abuse of position and influence, and a remarkably short-sighted one. If he wants to exercise any influence at all over citizens of the world who have not been indoctrinate since childhood to regard him as a godly sage by virtue of a secret political vote by a bunch of superannuated Cardinals, he has to earn credibility by the evident quality of the statements he makes. Later on, in the same interview, the Pope made it clear that his undistorted vision of the world involves endorsing open borders.
I think the Pope has a distorted view of the trustworthiness of celibate men who have access to young boys, so I really couldn’t care less what he thinks about U.S. policies when he can’t objectively and responsibly process the terrible realities in his own organization.
2. I’ve been reading and listening to sportswriters since I was ten, and I have to say that I have little respect for the critical thinking skills of most of them. I was gobsmacked by an example of why this morning, as Steve Buckley, a long-time baseball reporter for the Hub’s #2 paper The Boston Herald, opined in a virtue-signaling mess of a column that “War heroes, not David Ortiz, deserve streets named after them.” David Ortiz, in case you live in a fallout shelter, is the recently retired iconic slugger of the Boston Red Sox. The team recently retired his number, and in a related honor, the city of Boston re-named a small street near the park after him. It had earlier named one of the many bridges in the city after him.
“We should reserve the streets, the corners, the squares, the playgrounds, to remember the men and women who died serving our country.” Buckley writes. Why? He never really gives a reason, he just tells us that this is the way it should be. Why are the veterans who die in military service more honor-worthy than those who risked their lives but survived? Since when are society’s only real heroes military heroes? Is he a time-traveler from Ancient Sparta? Do contributions to society during peacetime or on the home front matter less to a community than what happens on a foreign battlefield?
What about fallen police officers and fire fighters? Not worth a street name? Philanthropists, inventors and innovators who made life better for all, launched businesses, created jobs, helped families and neighborhood thrive—these don’t warrant a little bit of local immortality? David Ortiz made millions of people happy. In a racially divided city, Ortiz, a black man, became the face of Boston sports, at least for those who were nauseated by Tom Brady’s smug countenance. That was as important as his clutch home runs. Trivializing Ortiz’s contributions to Boston (the relationship of Bostonians to their infuriating baseball team is too complex to explain quickly to anyone who hasn’t been part of it) is trivializing the importance of entertainment and popular culture, which is nothing short of ignorant, especially in the United States. In the District of Columbia, a school is named after Duke Ellington. Good. In Los Angeles, for decades until California leftists finally removed it, a major airport was named after John Wayne. Excellent. And in Boston, the largest tunnel is named after Ted Williams, but maybe Buckley thinks that’s OK because Williams was a combat flier in two wars. (Pssst! Ted’s tunnel isn’t bearing his name because he crash-landed that jet, Steve!)
As a society and a species, we have a duty to remember those who have contributed to the culture we enjoy. There aren’t enough streets, schools, bridges and parks to honor them all, but they all deserve to be honored. Continue reading
Yesterday’s U.S. missile attack on Syria prompted by Assad’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians clarifies just how inept and feckless President Obama’s handling of foreign policy was.
In an article today in the reliably progressive and Democratic Party-boosting The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg writes,
“President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine, like many foreign policy doctrines, was contradictory at times, and it sometimes lacked coherence.”
1. At times?
2. Sometimes lacked coherence?
3. Notice the obligatory “like many foreign policy doctrines” to cushion the blow. Journalists are in permanent denial over just how epically awful the first black President’s administration was.
Goldberg eventually gets around to Obama’s “decision, in 2013, to go back on his promise to punish the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons on civilians. Early in the Syrian civil war, Obama publicly drew a red line concerning Assad’s behavior, but later decided to forgo military strikes, even after being presented with near-definitive proof that Assad had crossed the red line in grotesque fashion. “ This inadequate description intentionally leaves out the dispiriting details of that fiasco. Here is what Obama said in August of 2013 when the first “red line” appeared:
“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus; that would change my equation….We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”
Now, lawyers and grammarians may argue over what “a red line” means, what constitutes “use” and “a whole bunch,” and what the President considers “enormous consequences.” None of that matters. What matters is what the statement was understood to mean around the world, and it was widely understood to mean this: If chemical weapons are used against the Syrian people by Assad, the United States will act decisively. Last week, reliable evidence indicated that indeed chemical weapons had been used, and that the “red line” had been crossed.
Obama’s response? Double-talk, backtracking and word-parsing:
- The President to reporters Friday with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the Oval Office: “What we have right now is an intelligence assessment. And as I said, knowing that potentially chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria doesn’t tell us when they were used, how they were used. Obtaining confirmation and strong evidence, all of those things we have to make sure that we work on with the international community. And we ourselves are going to be putting a lot of resources into focusing on this. And I think that, in many ways, a line has been crossed when we see tens of thousands of innocent people being killed by a regime. But the use of chemical weapons and the dangers that poses to the international community, to neighbors of Syria, the potential for chemical weapons to get into the hands of terrorists — all of those things add increased urgency to what is already a significant security problem and humanitarian problem in the region. So we’re going to be working with countries like Jordan to try to obtain more direct evidence and confirmation of this potential use. In the meantime, I’ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues. So this is not an on or off switch.”
- A White House official to reporters Thursday: “I think what the Assad regime needs to know is that we are watching this incredibly closely. Were he to undertake any additional use [of chemical weapons], he would be doing so under very careful monitoring from us and the international community. There should be no mistaking our determination not just to get to the bottom of these reports, but to send a message … that Bashar al-Assad and his regime will be held accountable for these types of actions. We’re going to be methodical, rigorous and relentless … so we can establish exactly what happened…all options are on the table in terms of our response…If we reach a definitive determination that the red line has been crossed … what we will be doing is consulting closely with out friends and allies … to determine what the best course of action is.”
So those “enormous consequences ” of the “red line” being crossed is that the United States will start consulting with friends and allies?
Well, yes, in a word. Continue reading
From The Ethics Alarms “Do The Ends Justify The Means?” Files: The Breast Cancer Survivor’s Inspiring Scam
At one point, profiling the double-mastectomied Paulette Leaphart’s 1,000-mile walk from Mississippi to Washington, D.C….topless…CNN reporter Jessica Ravitz writes,
“If even one woman’s life was saved thanks to a conversation Paulette started, wasn’t that enough? So what if our hero was flawed?”
Oh, no: the “just one child/just one life” rationalization again! (Which, I now notice, isn’t on the Rationalizations List, and it should be.)
Ravitz writes this to begin a long, detailed, infuriating narrative about the well-publicized and much-hyped crusade of Leaphart, whose journey, displaying her scarred chest, was to ostensibly demand more funds for cancer research cure and better and more affordable health care. She said she was a champion for women without breasts “to believe in their beauty and be proud of their strength.”
“By showcasing and embracing her scars, she hoped to inspire others to do the same,” Ravitz writes. “Her journey was bold, visual, moving. It offered a hero to admire and, given Paulette’s audacious decision to walk shirtless in the face of strangers, a rich spectacle to witness. It spoke to African-American women, who face the highest breast cancer mortality rate. It inspired legions of survivors. And it spoke to many who’d lost someone to the disease.”
Ravitz is conflicted, clearly, as she tells the complicated story of the woman whose official cause is admirable, but whose motives are murky, and whose credibility is non-existent. While explaining the mounds of evidence she uncovered that the woman has a record of deception, venality and financial flim-flam, that she sees the long walk as a ticket to fame and cash, and that she has lied and fabricated aspects of her ‘inspirational story” repeatedly while the efforts of journalists to pin her down. Yet Ravitz still ends up by being wishy-washy and equivocal:
“There’s no way to measure how much of a difference Paulette Leaphart made in shaping the conversation about cancer in this country. She touched many minds and hearts, but whether she did so in the most honest and transparent way remains questionable.”
What? There is nothing questionable about whether Leaphart has been honest and transparent—she hasn’t. Ravitz documents her deceptions impressively. She lied about her cancer treatment. She lied about her eligibility for Medicaid and financial resources. She lied to a documentary team that had arranged to follow her, leading them to end the relationship. She lied on her Facebook page, representing her health travails by using the experiences of a friend. Her unguarded comments suggest that she began the walk as a way to make money for herself as well as research. She accepted contributions under false pretenses. Yet the journalist still seems to want to say that all of this doesn’t matter, if some good resulted from it: Continue reading
I hope you remember Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who falsely claimed to be black, double-talked and lied about her racial origins, and was defended by the “race is just a social construct” crowd on the left, as part of the same ideological fantasy that holds that a man can be a woman by just deciding that she is one. Ethics Alarms discussed her strange story here, here, and here.
Following her 15 minutes of fame, Rachel was somehow unable to manage a book contract or a speaking tour, perhaps because she is a walking, talking Achilles heel for several beloved progressive myths, Now she’s jobless and living on food stamps, and facing foreclosure and expects to be evicted next month.
“There’s no protected class for me,” she told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds…I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”
Of course, she is.
Dolezal says she’s been rejected for over 100 jobs. She has had offers on the freak show circuit, in porn and reality TV. But Dolezal is not uneducated or dumb. Surely there are many jobs that she could perform, and well.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is this…
Would you hire Rachel Dolezal?
The Trump Administration Is Treating The Mainstream Media As “The Opposition Party”? Good: That Is Exactly How It Has Been Behaving.
President Trump refused to give MSNBC’s reporter a question during yesterday’s press session with Benjamin Netanyahu, so MSNBC’s Peter Alexander complained on the air later that the conservative journalists the President did call on didn’t ask “real questions” like he would have. Of course, if anyone can find a single instance of Obama-bootlick MSNBC ever asking critical questions of President Obama, please pass it along. MSNBC’s coverage of Trump’s presidency began with dead-eyed Rachel Maddow intoning to her Angry Left audience that no, the election returns weren’t a nightmare, they were real. On Inauguration Day, Maddow compared Trump’s election to “Hitler’s rise.” Chris Matthews called the new President’s inaugural address “Hitlerian,” and compared his family to the Romanovs. Nice.
The tone hasn’t softened. Yesterday, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” announced that Kellyanne Conway was banned from the show. Conway is an embarrassing and untrustworthy shill, but similar conduct did not provoke any news organization from banning,say, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose penchant for Jumbos in defense of the Obama administration should have guraranteed employment with Ringling Bros.
CNN reporters were similarly indignant. “In the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by conservative press, and I think, Wolf, there’s no other way to describe it but the fix is in,” said Jim Accosta. What he means is the mainstream media’s fix is being foiled, but never mind, Jim, stick to the battle plan. His network ran a report about a pure rumor that the President had used the services of a prostitutes during a trip to Moscow. Actions have consequences.
Over at ABC, Matthew Dowd made the legally incompetent argument that by not calling on the news organizations that have declared war on his Presidency, embraced fake news and Big Lies, Trump is “shutting down” the First Amendment. ABC permitting outright false and misleading claims like that from its pundits is reason enough to stick it in the “junk journalism” pile. ABC, CNN, MSNBC and the rest are as free as birds to continue broadcasting their slanted coverage designed to bolster the Left’s efforts to frighten and anger the public and undermine the elected President. But no Bill of Rights provision requires the government to support the myth that biased journalists are trustworthy.
The media’s coverage of the Flynn resignation was a disgrace for the mainstream media, a true orgy of bias and Trump paranoia. MSNBC’s Hardball guests Tim Weiner and Malcolm Nance equated the speculated ties between the Trump administration/campaign and Russia to “the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stole the secret of the atomic bomb.”Nance opined,
“I think that this scandal is unique in all of American history. This would be the equivalent of the British, you know, running Abraham Lincoln or actually funding Jefferson Davis to take over the United States. This is — there has never been anything like this!”
Chris Matthews just nodded along. Even though this was an opinion (from guests he recruited to give it), a responsible host has an obligation to say, “I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculous and unfair comparison.” Matthews, back when he infuriated Democrats by occasionally being non-partisan, used to throw guests off his show for such fact-free slander. Continue reading
The Flynn Fiasco: Flynn Doesn’t Understand That Ethics Thingee, And That’s Reason to Fire Him All By Itself
In the final hours before his resignation, now-former White House National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn said he “crossed no lines” in his discussion with Russia’s ambassador, but ultimately he was most concerned about the steady stream of leaks to reporters based on classified information.
“In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter. That’s a crime,” Flynn told The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group during a telephone interview from his White House office on Monday.
“You call them leaks. It’s a criminal act. This is a crime. It’s not just a wink and a nod,” Flynn said.
5. The Compliance Dodge.
Simply put, compliance with rules, including laws, isn’t the same as ethics. Compliance depends on an individual’s desire to avoid punishment. Ethical conduct arises from an individual’s genuine desire to do the right thing. The most unethical person in the world will comply if the punishment is stiff enough. But if he can do something unethical without breaking the rules, watch out!
No set of rules will apply in all situations, and one who is determined to look for loopholes in a set of laws, or rules, or in an ethics code, so that he or she can do something self-serving, dishonest, or dastardly, is likely to find a way…
In an earlier version of #6, this was called the Al Gore Dodge, in honor of then Vice-President Gore, who had been caught engaging in some of the slimy Clinton administration fundraising machinations, and justified his conduct by arguing that “no controlling legal authority” prohibited what he did, which was to raise campaign funds from his office in the White House. Flynn lied to the current Vice-President and attempted to cover-up his conversation with the Russian ambassador. The FBI was spying on him at the time, which raises other issues. But even if the FBI’s surveillance was a part of a rogue operation by Sally Yates to take over the government and make Barack Obama King, it doesn’t change what Flynn did, or make his conduct any more acceptable. Continue reading