New Year, New Rationalizations! Meet #38-40: “The Pioneer’s Lament,” “The Desperation Dodge,” And “The Evasive Tautology”

rationalizations 38-40

Let’s begin the new year with some additions to The Rationalizations List, shall we? Remember, any time you detect thoughts that echo these (or any of their 37 companions on the current Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List) you are either lying to yourself to justify unethical conduct, or adapting unethical reasoning habits that will lead you astray sooner or later.

38. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?”  Continue reading

Patriotism And Citizenship Check Coming For Democrats As The “Golden Dancer” Presidency Nears Its Point Of No Return

almost_midnight_

I sense that time is running out.

This evening, around 8 PM, the New York Post released an exclusive story, citing a “reliable source,” claiming that the Census Bureau faked the September  2012 employment figures that gave a huge boost to President Obama’s campaign as the race against Mitt Romney was reaching its stretch run. The figures, which were challenged by conservative pundits as suspiciously and conveniently positive, finally put unemployment below the crucial 8% mark.

From the Post’s John Crudele:

“The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it. Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today. “He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked. The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

‘“It was a phone conversation — I forget the exact words — but it was, ‘Go ahead and fabricate it’ to make it what it was,” Buckmon told me.”

Crudele notes that falsifying jobs figures has more consequences than just misleading voters and giving the President a basis to claim that the economy is improving. He writes, “I hope the next stop will be Congress, since manipulation of data like this not only gives voters the wrong impression of the economy but also leads lawmakers, the Federal Reserve and companies to make uninformed decisions. To cite just one instance, the Fed is targeting the curtailment of its so-called quantitative easing money-printing/bond-buying fiasco to the unemployment rate for which Census provided the false information. So falsifying this would, in essence, have dire consequences for the country.” [UPDATE (11/19)—“A Republican aide told the Washington Examiner the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is digging into the claim, published in the New York Post on Tuesday….”]

That’s not my hope.

I don’t know if this story is accurate or not. The New York Post is hardly…well, let’s see how to best put this…it’s hardly a reliable, trusted news source like the New York Times or the Washington Post were before U.S. journalism lost all credibility, objectivity and trustworthiness. This story could prove false,  but whether it is or not, the Obama Administration will deny it, stonewall it, make sure its media allies keep it isolated to “conservative media” so it can be discredited, just as it did with Benghazi, the IRS efforts to handcuff conservative groups during the campaign, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, and the real source of the problems with the ACA website. Whether this scandal, which would show that the Obama Administration used its various agencies to illicitly, unethically and dishonestly deceive the public to influence the Presidential election, is real or not, there are real scandals, many of them, waiting to be discovered, and still more that are in the process of developing. There is no doubt in my mind about this, just as there was no doubt in my mind a year ago that this wave of dashed hopes, uncovered lies, and desperate survival maneuvers was inevitable. The Obama Presidency is dysfunctional, incompetent, corrupt and rotten to its core, like Golden Dancer, the apocryphal rocking horse that Henry Drummond, the fictional avatar of Clarence Darrow in “Inherit the Wind,”  describes in a famous scene: Continue reading

Creating Captain Costanzas

Metaphor

I think I stopped finding George Costanza funny when I saw the “Seinfeld” episode in which he panicked at a kids party after smelling smoke and trampled the children rushing to be the first out the door. (His callous reaction to his fiancée’s death from licking envelopes had paved the way for my inability to laugh at George.) The thought of a real-life George Costanza, the most unethical character on a show about unethical characters, serving as the captain of an imperiled ship full of passengers is horrifying, but that’s basically what befell the unsuspecting tourists on board the cruise ship that tipped over after hitting a rock off the coast of Italy. Having caused the accident, it appears, by irresponsibly changing course, captain Francesco Schettino hit the life boats before most of his passengers, and claimed to be directing the evacuation from the relative safety of a lifeboat as he defied orders from the Italian Coast Guard to return to the ship. Continue reading

Ugly Consequentialism: The Daily Beast Backs Perez Hilton

I am developing a real dislike for the Daily Beast. Tina Brown’s slick news aggregating website has gone out of its way to slander innocent dog breeds, features self-promoting hypocrites like John Avlon, and generally displays the ethical instincts of Piers Morgan, which is to say, none. Today it gave us an update on Serene Branson, who was mocked by blogger Perez Hilton and others for having an obvious, and frightening, on-air neurological event that caused her to be unable to speak coherently. Entitled “Line-Flubbing Grammys Reporter Fine”—trivializing as “line-flubbing” what was clearly nothing of the sort; people don’t get checked out by physicians for flubbing lines—the Daily Beast’s commentary noted that paramedic could find nothing wrong, so “Laugh away.”

This is the ugly face of consequentialism, judging the ethical nature of conduct based on what happens afterwards. Perez Hilton’s cruel amusement at a reporter finding that she cannot form intelligible speech is now retroactively fine and dandy, because Branson hasn’t—so far—keeled over or gone blind. So laugh, jerks, laugh…until she does keel over, tomorrow, or next week, or next month, in which case the ridicule becomes unacceptible to The Daily Beast.

Another human being who is panic-stricken as her body turns on her is not funny, and it is a sign of callousness and a deficit of compassion to laugh at the sight of it, whether or not the apparent catastrophe turns out to be minor after all. But the Daily Beast is proving that it is a playpen, occupied by reporters, columnists and editors with the ethical sophistication of gradeschoolers.

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UPDATE 2/15/11 (From AOL News):

“Despite Branson’s insistence that she’s fine, doctors who have examined the now heavily circulated footage of the incident continue to express concerns.

“This is what we call a class neurological event,” Dr. Keith Black, director of the Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told NBC’s ‘Today’ show. “She was obviously aware that she was having difficulty.”

According to Black, Branson’s episode was likely the result of a transient ischemic attack, essentially a “blockage in blood flow going to the brain,” or a “mini-seizure located in the language area.”

The New York Post also spoke to doctors who viewed the tape, and they said that Branson’s garbled speech could have resulted from “aphasia, which affects the ability to articulate, and that it could have been brought on by a mini-stroke, a tumor or a circulatory issue.”

Ethics Dunce: Blogger Perez Hilton

There is snarky, and there is vicious and cruel. Perez Hilton, the over-the-top celebrity blogger who always amasses enough points to be in the running for Media Creep of the Year, hit rock bottom over the weekend, showing a level of humanity, empathy and caring we identify with the people who ridicule  ALS sufferers and terminal cancer patients, and who find watching heart attacks and strokes amusing.

“MUST WATCH!!!” “Grammy Reporter Fail!” wrote Hilton, about a frightening video showing CBS reporter Serene Branson suddenly finding herself unable to speak coherently on the air as she reported on the Grammys, and obviously experiencing some kind of neurological episode that was a lot more serious than being “tongue-tied.”

“Someone call an exorcist!” joked the blogger, who called Branson’s cisis “HIGHlarious.”

[This post originally included the video footage, but CBS has pulled it.] Branson gets a few words out, then you can see the fear and panic that starts to come into the young woman’s expression as she realizes that her thoughts are no longer being formed into words. She utters a stream of jibberish  very reminiscent of the sounds made by the swimmer at the beginning of “Jaws” who is being attacked by a Great White shark, and then the station cuts her off. If watching another human being in peril and terror is “HIGHlarious” to you, “Ethics Dunce” is an understatement.

Hilton quickly pulled his first post on the incident when it began drawing fire, and so far, doctors haven’t been able to determine what caused the incident…so Hilton obviously thinks he’s in the clear.

He’s not. Even if we never know what happened to Branson, she was frightened and something bad was obviously happening to her. I’m sure she’s still terrified, and should be: my law school room mate, last year, had a mysterious episode that seemed like a stroke, but the doctors found nothing, and sent him home. Two days later, he dropped dead.

Yuk it up, Perez.

Jerk.