Presenting Ethics Alarms’ 67th Rationalization: The Underwood Maneuver or “That’s In The Past”

HOUSE-OF-CARDS

The latest addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List is #50 A, The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.” It is a sub-rationalization of #50, The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares,” and the 67th dishonest, illogical or otherwise ethics-busting excuse for wrongful conduct on the list.

This rationalization has the honor of being named for a President, though a fictional and sinister one: Frank Underwood, the devious, psychopathic, lying and murdering Chief Executive, played by Kevin Spacey, who leads the den of thieves and blackguards who populate the fictional Washington, D.C. in the Netflix drama, “House of Cards.” I owe the series my gratitude for reminding me of this classic rationalization, which is a favorite not only of  President Underwood and his Lady Macbeth-like First Lady, but also—just coincidentally—of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Indeed, Hillary’s current campaign is built on it.

The Underwood Maneuver is versatile. Frank’s favorite use of it is when he is seeking assistance from one of the gazillion elected officials, appointees and other whom he has lied to or metaphorically stabbed in the back. “Why should I trust you now, when you betrayed me?” these poor souls are always asking. “Oh, but that was in the past!” says Frank, in his gentle South Carolina accent. “This is now. We need each other now. What’s done is done. Let’s move forward.” Continue reading

Observations On The Illegal Immigration Ethics Train Wreck, The Ugliest Of Them All

Illegal-Immigration

Nobody, literally nobody, has managed to stay off this Ethics Train Wreck by now. The over-flowing passenger list includes…

Democrats, who cynically want to encourage law-breaking to tilt the nation’s demographics toward what they think will be a permanent electoral advantage

Law enforcement, which has ducked its duty to keep our borders secure

Big business, which wants to preserve an underground economy that provides cheap and frightened labor that allows it to pay unconscionably low wages;

Conservatives, whose refusal to consider any path to citizenship for the millions we have already allowed to stay here by our non-enforcement of our own laws is irresponsible in the absence of any other realistic plan (mass deportation being too repulsive to contemplate);

Democrats, who have foolishly heralded policies, like the Dream Acts, that  provide an incentive for illegal immigration;

U.S. citizens who happily accept the benefits of services provided by illegals while claiming to oppose the process that allowed them to tend their gardens and care for their children

Hispanic-Americans, who have chosen heritage over country by continuing to support continued law breaking by relatives, friends, and others with whom they may share a language or a country of origin;

Congress, which as been lazy and cowardly and avoided its responsibility for decades;

The Justice Department, which has fought to prevent states from taking action to stem the illegal tide that is overwhelming their social services;

Illegal immigration advocates, who have deliberately clouded the issue by calling anyone who doesn’t advocate open borders (that is, sovereign suicide) as racist, and have used deceitful euphemisms to confound immigration, which the U.S. public unanimously supports and has done so for a century, and illegal immigration, which it has not and should not;

The mainstream news media, which has aided and abetted this confusion, supported the race-baiters, encouraged the deceptive use of euphemisms like “comprehensive immigration reform” (which means, “let’s stop enforcing immigration laws”) and outright deception, like calling “illegal immigration” “immigration, ”  while consistently misrepresented the issue as a humanitarian problem rather than a matter of sovereignty, law enforcement and common sense;

The illegals themselves.

The American public, which despite overwhelmingly opposing “amnesty,” whatever it thinks that is, remains inattentive, feckless and ignorant regarding the issue.

Have I left anyone out? Sure I have: President Obama, who has booked a luxury berth on this train. Continue reading

Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC

You can read details here.

Well, It's about time.

Well, It’s about time.

It has been about two weeks since MSNBC talking head Martin Bashir said, on the air, not spontaneously but reading from a script, that Sarah Palin deserved to have someone shit in her mouth. I have previously commented on the incident and its aftermath here, here, here and here, which is more than Bashir is worth.

Briefly…

  • Bashir should have been fired. That would have asserted that MCNBC had standards of civility and professionalism. This suggests it has none, at least when a conservative is the one being abused on the air.
  • He should have been fired immediately. Late is sometimes better than never, but it is also significant when a network, faced with an employee who engages in objectively outrageous conduct that doesn’t merely cross the line, but pole vaults across it, appears to be pondering, as in, “Hmmmm. How bad is it, really, when a host suggests that someone hold down a former vice-presidential candidate and defecate in her mouth? Tough one! What’s your take, Lou?”
  • Bashir’s producer and editor should have been disciplined, if not fired as well.  Continue reading

Rushed Ethics

Feeling pressured?

The Economist points its readers’ attentions to two studies showing the ethical benefits of delay to decision-makers. It is an important topic, with profound ethical implications. Deadlines and the perception of urgency are both what I call pre-unethical conditions, situations that so frequently lead to unethical conduct that our ethics alarms should start ringing the second we start feeling the dread of time-pressure. The Economist article notes that…

“…[ in ] an obscure article in the Academy of Management Journal by Brian Gunia of Johns Hopkins University… Mr Gunia and his three co-authors demonstrated, in a series of experiments, that slowing down makes us more ethical. When confronted with a clear choice between right and wrong, people are five times more likely to do the right thing if they have time to think about it than if they are forced to make a snap decision. Organisations with a “fast pulse” (such as banks) are more likely to suffer from ethical problems than those that move more slowly….The authors suggest that companies should make greater use of “cooling-off periods” or introduce several levels of approval for important decisions.” Continue reading