Tag Archives: deceit

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/2017: Climate Change Deceit, Jimmy Kimmel, Trump’s Golf Ball Attack, Stephen King, And How to Cover The Left’s Epic Freak-Out

GOOD MORNING!

(he shouted…)

1 When I wrote today’s early morning post about the Sherwin-Williams controversy, with a “hit the ball into the paint can” promotion going horrible wrong thanks to fake news and lying sports reporters, I wanted to use a famous old cartoon based on a sign that hung in the outfield in old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. I couldn’t find it online, perhaps because it was 4 am. I just did, however…

2.  For some time, now, as the Left has commenced its nervous breakdown following Trump’s election, I have faced a daily dilemma. The ethics breaches, in civility, in journalism, in politics, have been so over-weighted to one side of the political spectrum that to cover issues based on importance and degree of ethics madness automatically makes Ethics Alarms seem partisan. I resent it, to be honest. The counterbalance is, of course, the President himself, but his brand of unethical conduct hasn’t changed since the campaign, though the Trump-haters never tire of freaking out over the same stuff. For example, after the infamous wrestling tweet about CNN, how nuts can you go when Trump posts a gag video showing him hitting Hillary in the head with a golf ball? Yes, it’s childish, yes, its unpresidential, yes, it shows lack of self-restraint, yes, it’s stupid. But I know and you know, and certainly his haters know, that Trump is childish, unpresidential, lacks  self-restraint, and is stupid. I’ve written too much about it already.

He is not, however, getting worse. Democrats, progressives and “the resistance” are getting worse, as they become more desperate in their derangement. I’m seeing things I didn’t believe possible, like serial child abuser Jimmy Kimmel being held up by the news media as the moral center of the Democratic Party. Jimmy Kimmel is nothing. He is a smug high school grad who has never done anything but perform, often disgustingly, as when he was host of the too-vulgar-to-be-believed “Man Show” on Comedy Central.

He’s never run a business; he’s never studied public policy. He’s a comedian whose signature act is egging on parents to make their kids cry and take videos of them. Ah, but he’ll give Hillary Clinton a forum to deliver her shadow UN speech, and pimp for Obamacare, so that makes him a policy expert. Incredible. Incredible, the depths to which progressives have fallen.

An immature, inexperienced, impulsive President, rather than being opposed, as he should be, by a professional, honest, respectable and responsible opposition party, has instead mutated the liberal establishment into as revolting a presence as he is. This is catastrophic for our politics, our culture, and our society, and that’s why Ethics Alarms devotes so much space to it.

3. Ann Althouse has the sharpest hypocrisy detector around, and she nailed horror novelist Stephen King (I like his novels, some of his movies, and he is a big Red Sox fan) for sending this anti-Trump tweet:’

Trump thinks hitting a woman with a golf ball and knocking her down is funny. Myself, I think it indicates a severely fucked-up mind.

She writes in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Ethics Dunce: Federal Judge Gary Feinerman

(I am going to eschew cheese jokes in this post, and I expect some credit for it.)

We recently learned that grated parmesan cheese often contains  cellulose powder.  This icky fact spawned dozens of lawsuits against Kraft, Heinz, Walmart, Target, Albertsons, Publix, and others, alleging consumer fraud by selling products with labels claiming that the contents were “100% grated parmesan cheese,” or words to that effect.

Since the  lawsuits all made the same claims, they were consolidated into one multi-district litigation overseen by a federal judge Gary Feinerman in Illinois. Judge Feinerman dismissed the litigation last week, ruling that “100% grated parmesan cheese” is an ambiguous statement that is open to multiple interpretations.

Judge Feinerman doesn’t understand deceit.

“Although ‘100% grated parmesan cheese’ might be interpreted as saying that the product is 100% cheese and nothing else, it also might be an assertion that 100% of the cheese is parmesan cheese, or that the parmesan cheese is 100% grated,”he wrote in his ruling. “Reasonable consumers would thus need more information before concluding that the labels promised only cheese and nothing more, and they would know exactly where to look to investigate — the ingredient list. Doing so would inform them that the product contained non-cheese ingredients.”

Each of the products involved, the judge noted, listed cellulose and the other ingredients on the label, along with the fact that the cellulose is added ‘to prevent caking.’”

“100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” might also mean “I did not have sex with that woman,” I guess. The companies didn’t put that legend on the packages to let consumers know that the cheese is “100% grated.” They put it there to mislead consumers, and try to ensure that they didn’t read that there were wood chips in their cheese. This is classic deceit, and the judge is letting companies get away with it.

The judge smugly asserts that a reasonable consumer would know that pure cheese is not shelf-stable at room temperature and couldn’t sit in sealed packaging in a grocery store for long periods of time. “Cheese is a dairy product, after all, and reasonable consumers are well aware that pure dairy products spoil, grow blue, green, or black fuzz, or otherwise become inedible if left refrigerated for an extended period of time,” he writes, and thus “would still suspect that something other than cheese might be in the container, and so would turn it around, enabling them to learn the truth from a quick skim of the ingredient label.”

Except that the labeling was designed to hide the truth, mislead buyers, and gull them into believing that it was “100% grated parmesan cheese,” like  the package said.

The judge is coming perilously closed to the old, discredited “let the buyer beware” standard that opened the door for outrageous and often dangerous consumer fraud.  I guess the judge is saying I’m an idiot: when I saw a label that said “100% grated parmesan cheese,” I didn’t assume that it mean “8% other crap.”  I assumed that it meant “100% grated parmesan cheese.”

I always wondered how that Kraft box stayed in my mother’s cupboard so long, though. But my mom also kept catsup, mustard and other condiments for decades.

We used to get sick a lot, now that I think about it…

The ruling isn’t a breach of judicial ethics, just a bad ruling that encourages deception by excusing deceit.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising

A Masterpiece! O.J. Simpson Delivers The Most Deceitful Statement Ever!

“I’m in no danger to pull a gun on anybody. I’ve never been accused of it. Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them.”

….said O.J. Simpson at his parole hearing.

Brilliant! One simply cannot make a more deceitful statement–literally true,  designed to deceive, leading listeners to a false conclusion if they don’t parse the words with care.

Yes, this surpasses Bill Clinton’s deceit classic, I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  (Oral sex isn’t “sexual relations” in Bill’s view, so he wasn’t lying. Right.) Bill only was deceiving in one respect. O.J. pulls a hat trick:

1. “I’m in no danger to pull a gun on anybody.”

True! The Juice’s weapons of choice are big knives.

2. “I’ve never been accused of it.”

Also true. O.J. has been accused of murder, but not of pulling guns on people.

3. “Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them.”

That’s indisputable fact. Nicole and Ron could and would have accused him of pulling a knife on them, if they had survived the attack.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks

More Ethics Observations On The Firing of FBI Director James Comey

It’s all this guy’s fault…

I have read the initial comments on the original post-–which I interrupted my viewing of a Red Sox game to write, just so you know how dedicated I am—had some additional thoughts and processed some new data. Here are some more observations:

1. The New York Times biased reporting is even worse than I thought. Today’s print edition has a “Saturday Night Massacre” size headline screaming:

TRUMP FIRES COMEY AMID RUSSIA INQUIRY

This is deceit, and, as I noted before, yellow journalism. It is technically accurate, but misleading and false anyway. Trump also fired Comey in May,  “amid” the North Korea crisis, and while the Orioles were playing the Nationals. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Comey’s firing had anything to do with the Russia investigation except this: Comey thoroughly botched the last major investigation the FBI was engaged in.

The Times goes further, adding another above the fold story headlined, “The President Lands a Punch, and Many Hear Echoes of Watergate.” Ah, the old “many say/many hear/many think” ploy—an unethical journalism classic. Let’s seed the unfair suspicion without taking responsibility for it! Hey, we didn’t say we thought that, just that others do!

2. Many have noted that President Hillary would have fired Comey within seconds of taking office, or as close to that as possible. This is doubtlessly true. It is also true that Republicans would probably be attacking her with as much fury and blatant hypocrisy as Democrats are attacking the firing now.

But doing something unethical in an alternate universe is still not as damning is doing it in this one.

3. I have been working on a “100 Days” overview of the ethics score since President Trump took office. In general, it is both remarkable and disturbing how closely the President’s actual performance tracks with my expectations, as explained over the last two years. One aspect of this mostly negative assessment that is undeniably positive, however is that President Trump, unlike his predecessor, does not fear making decisions, and makes them despite the amount of criticism he knows will be coming, especially from the news media. (The previous President knew that he had nothing to fear from the news media, since it was invested in making him seem successful and wise even when he wasn’t.)

The firing of Comey is a perfect example, as was the decision to enforce, belatedly, Obama’s “red line” in Syria.

4. Nowhere near enough focus has landed on Rod Rosenstein (left) , the  deputy attorney general who was only confirmed a couple of weeks ago ( April 25, 2017). Rosenstein is an impressive lawyer with a long, distinguished  record in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and authored  the  “Memorandum to the Attorney General” on the subject of “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” This articulates the best reasons for firing Comey, and any critic who argues that it made sense to keep him on is tasked with rebutting Rosenstein’s brief. Good luck with that.
Continue reading

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Filed under Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

A Facebook Case Study In How People Cripple Their Ability, And Ours, To Make Ethical Distinctions

I inadvertently stumbled over a provocative Facebook post by a friend of a friend of a friend. My friend is a principled and intelligent liberal: apparently I stumbled on to a chain where each link was a little more detached from reality and reason.

The stranger’s post involved the story from two weeks ago, in the aftermath of the collapse of a crucial  highway bridge in Atlanta. Investigators found the the collapse was caused by a fire.There were no deaths or injuries caused by the fire and the explosion it sparked , but i  severed the vital roadway that runs north-south through downtown Atlanta and carries 250,000 vehicles daily, City Fire Department investigators arrested three homeless people on suspicion of involvement in the fire. Eventually only one was charged:  Basil Eleby, a homeless man, was arraigned on charges of first-degree arson and criminal damage to property. He had many previous drug and assault arrests, according to Fulton County jail records.

To this my friend’s friend’s friend—his name doesn’t matter—responded,

Three people are now under arrest for the fire that led to the freeway collapse in Atlanta – 3 homeless people. I predicted this. But rather than seek out revenge on these 3 for the tremendous inconvenience they’ve caused, can we take a moment to realize that no person reading this has ever known the reality of sleeping under a bridge. None of us have been compelled to light a fire under that same bridge in order to keep our bodies warm.

And can we please have a conversation about funding mental health for the homeless? And can we please have a conversation, not based in shame, not based in revenge, about getting homeless people off the street?

Yes, these 3 folks have done something that has inconvenienced many people. Lighting that fire is something they have probably done countless times before. Can we take this as an opportunity to deal with the real problem? It gives me no satisfaction that the person charged with the worst of this situation will have his homelessness solved by a jail sentence.

Now, I’m sure this individual is a really kind, compassionate individual. I’m also sure he’s the kind of person who is always saying things like “Why is anyone going hungry in the richest country in the world?” to the vigorous head-nodding of his friends, and his friends’ friends. (I am willing to bet money that he was a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter; probably Occupy Wall Street too.) This kind of statement, however, is policy and ethics static. It literally makes people stupid, and leads them away from useful, objective, dispassionate analysis, not towards it.  It is an irresponsible Facebook post.

Of course, it is also flagrant virtue-signalling and grandstanding. Now everyone knows that this guy is oh so compassionate and such a good Christian, who rejects revenge, and wants us to apply the Golden Rule to the poor and the weak. Applause, please. Yes, you’re a wonderful human being. Unfortunately, thinking like this impedes policy solutions to problems, by simplifying them and dumbing them down into their most emotionally distracting components, while pretending that hard truths don’t exist. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

20 Ethics Observations On The President’s Charge That Obama Tapped His Phones

In the first week of March, in the midst of the over-blown flap regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador, President Trump issued arguably his most explosive  tweet yet:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.

Later, he  tweeted,

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

It has been more than a week, and we know only a little more about what prompted this extraordinary accusation than we did then. However, there are some relevant ethics point to be made. Here we go…

1.  It is irresponsible and unpresidential to issue tweets like this. It is also unfair. If the Trump administration wants to make a formal complaint, charge or indictment, or announce an investigation, it should be made through proper channels, not social media. That stipulated, he will not stop doing this, and at some point we will have to accept it. Is this how Presidents communicate? It is now.

2. Thus the tweet is unethical even if it is true. However, the fact that it is unethical, or that Trump the Liar sent it, doesn’t mean it is untrue. An astounding number of pundits and journalists have made exactly that assumption, proving their bias against the President and their knee-jerk defensiveness regarding former President Obama.

3. The tweet cannot be called a “lie,” and anyone who does call it a lie based on what is known is revealing their confirmation bias.

4. One more point about the tweet itself: the fact that it has a typo and the level of articulation of the average 9th grader is itself an ethics breach. The President should not sanctify carelessness, or seem to embrace it. He is a role model.  Nor should a significant charge be written in haste, as this obviously was.

5. There seems to be a significant possibility that the President was trolling. Having had enough of the months long, absolutely evidence-free news media and Democrat innuendos that his campaign was coordinating election tampering with the Russians, he may have decided to make a sensational, unsubstantiated charge of his own to get the Russian hacking speculation off the front pages. If it was trolling, it was excellent trolling. The McCarthyism purveyors  deserved it; the accusation was a deft tit-for-tat,  one of the President’s favorite rationalizations.

6. As an example of what Trump has been and is being subjected to, we have Rep. Keith Ellison, vice-chair of the DNC.  He told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day last week,”

“This is stunning when you think about it. Far worse than Watergate, when you believe a hostile foreign power engaged in an attempt, and with the collusion of the sitting administration to manipulate an election.”

By sheerest moral luck, Camerota that day was feeling ethical, so she actually corrected a Trump-basher from her own party, said, “Well you don’t know that,” and pointed out that there is no evidence of collusion.

“I’m not saying there was collusion, I’m saying those meetings indicate that there could be, and I think that needs to be investigated,” Ellison then said, immediately after saying there was collusion.

These are awful, vicious, conscience- free people who subcribe to total political war and the ends justify the means. They are trying to bring down an elected government without winning an election. Even that does not justify treating them unethically, BUT… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Social Media

Update On The Jeff Sessions-Russian Ambassador Fiasco: A Confederacy Of Ethics Dunces

dunces2

Everyone—almost literally everyone— involved in the Jeff Sessions flap has beclowned themselves and revealed that a gerbil running around in a wheel is powering their ethics alarms.

These include such previously noted Ethics Dunces as..

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer a simple question clearly….
  • Democrats, who continue to act like spoiled siblings trying anything to make mommie get mad at the one she likes best, embracing conspiracy theories, smearing former colleagues, and generally morphing into walking, talking rectums before America’s eyes, to appeal to their deplorable hard core base made up of people who completed that mutation long ago…
  • Senator Chuck Schumer, displaying a partisan double standard so blindingly, throbbingly obvious than anyone can identify it….
  • Senator Claire McCaskill, engaging in perhaps the best timed hypocrisy and inexplicable amnesia of all time….
  • Deranged Trump-haters, determined to expose their legal ignorance to the world, who proclaimed Sessions guilty of perjury, when he obviously was not…
  • Every reporter, editor and news source who rushed into the trap of declaring that having contact with the Russian ambassador justifies  being “linked’ to Russia, when any dolt should have known that by that formula, anyone in Washington could be “linked” to Russia or be accused of having “Russian ties.”

But wait!

There’s more!

Now we have… Continue reading

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