Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/6/19: Goose Shit!

Good morning!

My best friend of long standing’s  favorite singer is Nat King Cole. He really doesn’t sound like anyone else, does he? I wonder how many millennials have heard his amazing voice, or would have the perspective to appreciate it.

Speaking of listening, I was prompted this morning to reflect on what a vital life-competence skill listening is. It is really an acquired skill: various Facebook discussions make it clear that most of the Facebook Borg warriors are no longer listening (or otherwise paying attention) to any information that doesn’t bolster their confirmation bias.

What made me think about this today was happening upon an early morning showing of “Casablanca” on Turner Movie Classics. I must have seen the classic a hundred or more times since  first watched the whole movie in college, and yet today was the first time I heard what “Rick” Blaine’s real first name was. All the other times I watched the movie, this passed by my consciousness without leaving a trace, but his real name is used three times. (Hint: it’s not Richard, though that’s what Ingrid Bergman calls him…)

1. A great President in many ways, but also a terrible human being. Watch the culture and the news media bury this. “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust,” a new book (published in September) reveals new archival evidence that shows FDR’s callous and bigoted treatment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust. I know the author, Dr. Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, as a result of his assisting The American Century Theater with several productions that involved the Jews and Israel.

The book’s revelations are not shocking to anyone who had looked at the evidence objectively even before this new material, but Roosevelt is a hallowed Democrat Party icon, and it has been, and I assume will continue to be, resistant to any effort to inform the public of this horrific moral and ethical failing, one of  many FDR was guilty of inflicting.  From a review: Continue reading

The Andrew McCabe Hiring: At Least CNN Doesn’t Seriously Try To Hide Its Hypocrisy. That’s Something, I Guess. I Guess…

Andrew McCabe. If only he could dance…

I really am not trying to pick on Brian Stelter, CNN’s indefensible blight on broadcast media ethics, but wow. He tweeted,

Then, seemingly a blink of the eye later, his employer announced that it was hiring Andrew McCabe as a commentator. Never mind the fact that Stelter spends his own position of “fame and privilege”—Did he really refer to Sean Spicer’s gig on “Dancing With The Stars” that way? —-lying his head off, shamelessly spinning for his rotting network, and generally making “broadcast news ethics watchdog” as much of an oxymoron as “Hart to Hart” dramaturg. CNN’s hiring McCabe is infinitely more outrageous than either of the hires he was criticizing.  It’s so obvious it hurts. Yet like Sgt. Schultz in “Hogan’s Heroes,” Stelter sees nothing. Continue reading

Sad Saturday Ethics Distraction, 8/24/2019: The Let Sean Spicer Make A Fool of Himself If He Wants To Edition

I hope you are feeling much happier than I am today.

I just returned from a memorial gathering for a very dear friend’s wife of 37 years, who died suddenly, painfully, and based on what I have heard, unnecessarily at the end of July. One positive take-away from the event: People really aren’t so bad. My friend was stunned and touched beyond measure by the turn-out, with nearly 200 people attending just to say good-bye to her and express their love and support for him. Some traveled great distances,  interrupted vacations, or made it despite illness and handicaps.  I saw friends, former colleagues and acquaintances that had been out of this region for decades, but all it took was an email informing them that their friend, who  is one of those rare people who is always there to render help and support, now needed their support himself.

Gee, those endings of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Easter Parade” aren’t as corny as I thought...

1. What a surprise! Only 35% of those polled support impeaching a President who has done nothing impeachable! Choose: Either the Democrats and the resistance have been lying about there being real and substantive high crimes and misdemeanors in order to sabotage the elected President, or there are such offenses, and they don’t have the guts to do their Constitutional duty and act to remove a President who is the existential threat to the nation they have claimed he is since, uh, before he was sworn in, somehow.

The same poll says that 57% would prefer someone else as President. That number is astoundingly low. The Someone Else dude is terrific! What a great President he’d be; I can’t fathom why he’s never made it! I know I sure wish he was President;  I’ve wished he were President ever since Ike left the White House.

Today’s quote from a “someone else” who I would rather set my face on fire than see have any power whatsoever: Bernie Sanders, who, while bloviating that “Climate change is an existential threat to the entire country and the entire world and we must be extraordinarily aggressive,” proposed an impossible, bankrupting, irresponsible 16 trillion dollar plan to “fix” what he doesn’t personally understand, couldn’t explain with a gun to his head, cannot say with certainty how it can be addressed effectively, and could be stumped by a cross examination by any climate change skeptic with a science degree. Bernie doesn’t even understand political science, and that was his college major. Proposing spending trillions of dollars on something you don’t understand is unethical. Isn’t that obvious? Continue reading

Ethics Mega Dunce And Ethics Corrupter: “Dancing With The Stars”

Ryan Lochte, role model

Ryan Lochte…liar, boor, jerk, TV star, role model.

This announcement would warrant a KABOOM! if ABC’s popular reality show/ dance competition hadn’t already demonstrated its lack of responsibility and decency so many times before. I guess my still unexploded head should be grateful for that, at least.

Dancing With The Stars is going to include Ryan Lochte in its line-up of competing celebrity dancers in the upcoming season. Why? Because he urinated on the wall of an establishment belonging to someone else, lied about the immediate consequences, insulted the hosts of the Olympic Games he competed in, and thoroughly embarrassed the United States, of course.  He’s infamous! He’s cute! He’s a moron! Naturally, this makes him attractive to “Dancing With The Stars.”

The undeniable message such casting sends to younger citizens whose sense of ethics and appropriate social conduct are still being formed is that wrongful conduct pays. DWTS is proving that as long as what you do makes you famous, it doesn’t matter if it is reckless, stupid, harmful or illegal. Then you can cash in.

This is the message that the show has often broadcast. Kim Kardashian was a contestant because she made a sex video, was the daughter of one of O.J.’s lawyers, had a freakishly large butt and epitomized hedonism, venality, and style over substance. Perfect! Tom DeLay was on the show because he was a famously vicious and corrupt—and successful— politician. Bristol Palin’s sole qualification for the show was that she managed to be an unwed mother-to-be, engaged to a jackass, while her mother was trying to convince the nation that she was qualified to be a heartbeat away from the White House. Reality shows and the ranks of washed-up actors have  supplied the show with a steady stream of drug addicts and low-lifes  whose sole distinctions have been that they were primarily famous for doing things that would get normal people fired or imprisoned. Continue reading

How Can Anyone Justify Attacking Chaz Bono on “Dancing With the Stars”?

Apparently ABC’s message boards, e-mail inbox and phone messages have been over-flowing with “Dancing With the Stars” fans and others protesting the addition of Cher’s transgendered son to the slate of competitors. Why are they so upset, you ask?

That’s what I’d like to know. I have watched Chaz Bono in several interviews, and he impressed me as a smart, down-to-earth, articulate and thoroughly likable young man in every way. He is straightforward in answering the most delicate questions, and appears to have no other objective than to be happy and, if possible, to provide comfort, inspiration and hope for others who have gender confusion issues.

Now Chaz has been added to the cast of the upcoming installment of America’s favorite competition/reality show, which has always included an odd stew of American cultural figures, from tabloid targets to star athletes to nostalgia cases to reality show comets to novelty choices from the worlds of politics and media. He fits right in (tabloid target/nostalgia division) , and in many ways is an upgrade from the usual B and C-List denizens who usually do the dancing. What in the world is so objectionable about Chaz Bono? Continue reading

The President’s Unstatesmanlike and Revealing Pettiness

So the President will schedule around this, but won't extend the same courtesy to the effort to determine who will challenge him for leadership of the United States. Got it.

It is worth recalling that back in March, President Obama altered the schedule of his address to the nation on Libya to avoid conflicting with the finals of “Dancing With the Stars.”  That, of course, was absurd, a diminishment of the office of the President and an act that trivialized the human tragedy occurring in Libya. But Obama made his priorities clear, or, as I interpreted it, his leadership instincts, which is to say his lack of them. The President chose to accommodate the Americans who care about reality dance competitions first, and the overthrowing of a terrorist dictator last. No point in trying to lead them to think otherwise.

Then, yesterday, supposedly in search of bi-partisan solutions to the employment problems in America that will not wait until November, 2012, the President scheduled his speech laying out his jobs program to conflict with the Republican candidates debate….a thoroughly small and petty gesture, unworthy of a President and disrespectful of the democratic process. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Barry Bonds

I never thought it could happen.

The four words above rank near the top of my list of “Things I Will Never Think, Feel, or Write,” somewhere between “I love the New York Yankees” and “I’m skipping the ethics seminar because I don’t want to miss the finale of “Dancing With The Stars.”

Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has arranged to pay the college tuition for the children of Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day. Both of his children are currently in grade school. By the time they are ready for college, it is estimated that the average tuition will be only slightly less than the national debt.

Barry can afford it, of course, but that is irrelevant. There is no way to spin this into anything but a profoundly kind and generous act of compassion toward a stranger. Bonds did not announce the pledge, or send out a press release. It was not an effort to bolster his public image in the wake of his recent conviction for misleading a federal grand jury regarding his use of steroids. He was not trying to change anyone’s opinion of his baseball controversies, and it is unlikely to. Bonds was just doing something extraordinarily generous, for a man and a family who have been struck by a terrible and senseless tragedy. Stow family attorney Thomas Girardi revealed yesterday that Bonds made the pledge to Stow’s son and daughter after visiting the family in the hospital on April 22. Bonds has said nothing about it.

I have been very critical of Barry Bonds’ conduct for many years, and there is much to criticize. None of that should reduce the praise and admiration due to him for this extraordinary act. Barry Bonds is an Ethics Hero. That’s all there is to it.

What happened on “Dancing With The Stars” last night?

Ethics Quiz: The Candies’ Foundation and Bristol Palin

" Hi! I'm Kim Kardashian, here to tell you that making a sex tape is a terrible mistake, even though my own sex tape made me and my two equally shallow sisters rich celebrities. Don't make the same mistake I did. Really. Trust me."

The Candie’s Foundation is a non-profit organization that, according to its website,

“…works to shape the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood. We are an operating foundation rather than a grant-making foundation. The foundation develops and runs communication campaigns to raise awareness about, and motivate teens to prevent, teen pregnancy.”

The main source of its message to teens right now is that “Dancing With The Stars” icon, Bristol Palin. Palin, now 20, qualified herself for the assignment of speaking to teens about the importance of avoiding getting pregnant by getting pregnant when she was 16, and doing it center stage, while her mother was the Governor of Alaska. Thus using her position in Alaska’s first family to add prestige to the role of unwed teenage mother in that state, Bristol went on to national prominence as Sarah Palin campaigned for Vice President on the GOP ticket, with Bristol demonstrating during and after that jaunt that marrying the father of your child might not be such a good idea either, since he might be, as in the case of Bristol’s short-term fiancee, Levi Johnston, an immature, selfish, publicity-seeking dimwit.

Having done maximum damage to everyone but herself by becoming pregnant (with significant help from Levi, naturally), unwed mother Bristol Palin parlayed her own irresponsible behavior into the job of spokeswoman for The Candie’s Foundation. Well, her mother, I think it is fair to say, did the parlaying. It never hurts to help a prominent and rising cult political figure’s wayward offspring. Who knows when you might need a favor…or have an unemployable offspring of your own?

Bristol goes around the country talking with students and other teenagers, reminding them that they are too young to have kids, and that they should wait because it will screw up their lives. Of course, all of these teenagers know that the unwed, former teen mother telling them this has absolutely no credibility, and in fact represents the much more optimistic ( and completely unrealistic for anyone whose family isn’t rich and/or famous) position  that you can have a baby in your teens, get on lots of magazine covers, have your mother get you a job traveling around the country talking about it while someone else takes care of the baby, and become a celebrity in the bargain. Neat-o! Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: Bristol Palin

“Going out there and winning this would mean a lot. It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me.

Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin’s daughter and blatantly undeserving finalist in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” on the show’s finale Tuesday’s night, prior to the revelation of the results of the audience voting. (She lost.) Continue reading

Unethical Website: Hillbuzz

Hillbuzz is the right wing website leading the charge to get Bristol Palin, who can’t dance a lick, voted as the best celebrity dancer on TV’s  “Dancing With The Stars” because, illogically enough, the site’s operators like her mother. Makes sense to me! Actually, it only makes sense in that I am familiar with how self-absorbed political fanatics on the Right and Left think, which is often inherently unethical. In this case, Hillbuzz thinks it’s reasonable to louse up the fun of a dancing competition and turn it into an expression of Tea Party power. Continue reading