Tag Archives: Democratic Party

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/18/17

It’s an All-Fred Morning!

Every day, Ethics Alarms head scout Fred sends me multiple suggestions for posts from he finds heaven-know-where. Even when I can’t fit them in, they often serve as references and always are enlightening.

1. I suspect this belongs in the Polarized Nation of Assholes files: For two years, since he returned from service combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant Commander Joshua Corney, has kept his promise to salute his fallen comrades in arms by playing a recording of Taps every evening before 8:00 p.m on his five-acre property in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It takes 57 seconds. It does not exceed volume limits. My dog barks longer that that every night after midnight when we put him out. Nonetheless, some of Corney’s neighbors have filed objections with the  borough. Now Glen Rock, which allows church bells to ring, among other sounds, ordered Corney to limit the playing of taps to Sundays and what it termed “flag holidays.” Each violation of the borough’s order would bring a criminal fine of 300 dollars. But the borough’s enforcement action involves two big constitutional no-nos: the heckler’s veto and content-based censorship. The borough is relying on a nuisance ordinance that prohibits sound that “annoys or disturbs” others, and just one individual annoyed by the somber Civil War era bugle solo is enough to deliver a “heckler’s veto.’

The ACLU is on the case, and backing Corney as he fights the action. It writes,

“If a “heckler” could shut down anyone who said or played something that annoyed or offended them by complaining to government officials, freedom of speech would be no more. For more than 75 years, it has been black letter First Amendment law that the government cannot censor speech simply because it is not universally appreciated.

Moreover, the borough cannot use its vague nuisance ordinance to single out only Lt. Commander Corney’s musical expression for censorship from the range of sounds that are part of the borough’s regular sonic landscape. The borough has not ordered Lt. Commander Corney to lower the volume of taps or claimed he has violated a noise-level ordinance.

And it could not claim such a violation because the recording neither exceeds any established noise levels nor is it as loud as many other sounds the borough tolerates — including many sounds that do not communicate a message, like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and vehicles. Censoring clearly protected expression, like taps, for being too loud, while allowing louder sounds that carry no constitutionally protected message turns the First Amendment on its head.”

Bingo. It is in cases like these that the American Civil Liberties Union shows how essential its role is in protecting the freedoms here that are so frequently under attack.

2. I was surprised when I learned some time ago that undercover police officers used to routinely have sexual relations with prostitutes before arresting them (homosexuals too, when they werebeing persecuted and  prosecuted). Just two months ago, Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to make it illegal for police officers to have sexual intercourse with prostitutes in the course of an under-cover (or covers) sting. Now Alaska wants to go an additional step, banning “sexual contact” with “sex workers” entirely. This could be mere touching or kissing. Advocates of Alaska’s House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 112 argue that police catching sex workers in the act by engaging with them sexually is a human rights violation, and Amnesty International has made an official statement supporting that claim: “Such conduct is an abuse of authority and in some instances amounts to rape and/or entrapment.” Police, quite logically, point out that the bill would make  successful undercover investigations impossible, which is, of course, the whole idea.

“[The prostitutes] ask one simple question: ‘Touch my breast.’ OK, I’m out of the car. Done. And the case is over,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News in a hypothetical example. “If we make that act (of touching) a misdemeanor, we have absolutely no way of getting involved in that type of arrest.”

Ethics Alarms is anti-prostitution. As with recreational drug use and probably polygamy, prostitution, which harms families and the young women and men exploited and abused to support it, is almost certainly on the road to legalization. Government won’t protect vital society ethics norms, but it will order you to buy health insurance because it’s for your own good. Continue reading

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“Fuck Donald Trump!”

I was bemused to see a Sunday New York Times front page story described the White House as beset with “scandals.” Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “scandal” applying the prior standards of ethical journalism, and especially if one considered the standards the news media applied to the Obama Administration. For reference purposes, the Obama White House manipulating the facts of the Benghazi raid to avoid accountability was not a scandal, it was a “nothingburger.”  The IRS, an executive agency under the authority of President Obama, deliberately and illegally sabotaging conservative groups to assist in Obama’s re-election wasn’t a scandal,  it was just “rogue employees.” Obama’s Justice Department surveilling a Fox journalist in defiance of the First Amendment wasn’t a scandal, because Fox News.

“Fast and Furious” wasn’t a scandal because the Attorney General who oversaw it said it wasn’t, and besides, the Justice Department was investigating itself, so all was well. Barack Obama repeatedly lying about what was in the health care bill that we had to pass to know what was in it wasn’t a scandal, it was just a slip of the tongue, over and over again. The same slip. Secretly trading five terrorists for a deserter whom the administration first described to the public as a soldier who “served the United States with honor and distinction” wasn’t a scandal because the mainstream media gave it a pass…and so on.

Firing someone a President has the power and right to fire and who was objectively untrustworthy  is not a scandal, nor is it a “crisis,”  no matter how many times reporters say it is. Alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources are not scandals, because they are alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources. A news media—led by two rival national newspapers trying to top each other by publishing breathless accounts of hearsay as if that is ever  evidence of anything—that has openly abandoned all ethical journalism standards and allied itself with a partisan effort to undermine and remove an elected President is a scandal, as well as a crisis. More on that one later.

The other scandal and crisis is the complete abdication of reason, responsibility, civility and sanity by the Democratic Party as it commits to satisfying the blood lust of its most hard-core and irrational supporters, by trying to unseat the President of the United States without the inconvenience of having to win an election. The latest ugly proof that this scandal is real came from California, where the state Democratic Party convention climaxed with outgoing party Chair John Burton extending two middle fingers in the air and leading a cheering throng in the chant,  “Fuck Donald Trump,” as Nancy Pelosi laughed it up in the crowd (as you can see in the photo.) Continue reading

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Update On Stephen Colbert’s “Cock Holster” Slur: Questions Answered Regarding The Comic, CBS, His Fans And Supporters…And The News Media

As discussed here yesterday, Stephen Colbert strung a gross, vulgar, precedent-shattering string of ugly ad hominem insults against the President of the United States this week, a volley that included the homophobic slur “cock holster,” insinuating, because such an image is so hilarious, that the leader of his country fellates Vladimir Putin. Last night he answered the collective criticism. Here is what he said, and said with the repulsively smug “aren’t I clever and amusing!” smirk that has always made this comic hard to watch for me (Samantha Bee does the same thing). As a professional director, I think it’s bad technique, and hackish. But I digress…back to Colbert:

“I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!…Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight…While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

Then he pandered to the critics who condemned his “cock holster” joke as homophobic by blathering briefly about how anyone who expresses love for any human being is a “hero” [Translation: “I love you all, Gay Progressives! Don’t be mad at me! Remember when you got mad at Alec Baldwin for calling a photographer a cocksucker? You forgave him because he votes for the right party, and so do I! “], and introduced gay actor Jim Parsons, who plays the uber-nerd in “Big Bang Theory” to prove it.

What did this moment tell us about Stephen Colbert?

Stephen Colbert doubled down on using the phrase cock holder on the air in a high profile network show. He did not apologize or retract the worst vulgarity that has ever been allowed to go out to millions on a pre-taped network show, and that record-worst vulgarity was directed at the President of the United States, who, like it or not, is the representative of our democracy world-wide and who, like it or not, carries the mantle of all who preceded him.

Colbert’s  justification for this is that the President insulted Colbert’s “friend,”  “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson [if you believe that Colbert and Dickerson are any more real friends than Colbert and the CBS cafeteria ladies, I have a bridge to sell you], so this justified exporting obscenity, uninvited, into millions of American homes, and further polluting political discourse and civil society.

This is signature significance. Stephen Colbert is an irresponsible, hateful, fame-addled, unprofessional asshole without the decency or ethical awareness to know when he has crossed a big, bold, long-standing cultural ethics line, or the courage to accept responsibility for it. His ethics ignorance was on display in his scripted–scripted! Like “cock-holster,” somebody was paid to write this garbage—comments. He expressed or embraced the unethical logic of Rationalizations #2, 7, 13, 14, 19A,  52,  and more.

Revealingly, Colbert, an alleged comedian, did not cite #54, The Joke Excuse, though as a holder of the Jester’s Privilege, that one was properly available to him. This signaled that Colbert was NOT joking, but being genuinely and intentionally hateful and insulting the President of the United States in as gross and demeaning a manner as he could, and that he meant it. Well, that’s an abuse of his position and the platform provided to him by CBS.

Meanwhile, Colbert stacked all of his chips on  Rationalization #11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?” He knows he can get away with conduct that would get lesser lights suspended or fired, so, like all organization high-performers who double as ethics corrupters, Colbert acted accordingly. Not only that, he gloated about it. “See? Can’t fire ME!”

There needs to be a special word for “contender for king of the assholes.”

On the plus side for Ethics Alarms, Colbert did give me a new Rationalization for the list, which I will add today: “The Pest’s Justification.” That’s when misconduct and abuse is justified because the abuser is less powerful than the abused. Abuse is abuse. “He can take care of himself” is not a justification.

Finally, the statement that he would change “a few words” is cowardly and slimy, displaying the character of a banana slug. Why would you change those words, Asshole? Because they got you in trouble? Why were they “cruder than they needed to be”? Needed to be for what purpose? If you won’t apologize for using those words, then say what the words are, again, right here, so we don’t think  you meant “Pricktator.” Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Month: ‘Late Show’ Host Stephen Colbert”

I admire various regular commenters here for different qualities: eloquence, perspective, courage, perseverance, integrity, loyalty, humor. Steve-O-in NJ is a one of the commenters I admire for his honesty, and willingness to subject his own conduct, past and present, to uncompromising analysis and objective criticism. This is one of the most difficult, and most useful, skills in improving our life competency of being positive participants in society’s ethical evolution. It also requires no small amount of humility and courage.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on today’s post, Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert:

This isn’t a monologue. This isn’t analysis. This isn’t humor. It’s a rant, plain and simple, a bunch of angry thoughts and insults strung together and delivered harshly. I’m a seasoned ranter, to the point where judges, colleagues, and my family have told me I would do better if I dropped out the 20% of what I write that’s trash talking. I usually use it as spice, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pandering to my like-minded friends who will think it’s funny if I refer to Hillary’s appearance or Bernie’s age or whatever.

I have done a lot worse in the past, the lowest point being my storming up the stairs to my office (before I was in public service) angry after a dispute over a parking space with an Indian guy. I got about a minute and a half into a rant about “these fucking dotheads, who the hell invited them over here? They don’t wash, they don’t know how to drive, they stink of curry and onions, they can’t speak the language, they take jobs away from people who were born here, someone needs to call dotbusters on them…” before a horrified colleague yelled “Steven! Listen to what you’re saying!” Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: “Late Show” Host Stephen Colbert

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”

Comic Stephen Colbert, in the climax to an anti-President Trump hate-rant, on CBS’s “Late Night”

Ten points regarding Colbert setting several new lows for network fare, in entertainment, in comedy, and in political discourse:

1. “Cock holster,” needless to say, all by itself and without context, is gutter language. It does not belong in network TV monologues. It does not belong at the dinner table. You would not, if you had an atom of respect, common sense, dignity or decorum, use the term as a guest in a home,  in the workplace, in a conversation with your mother, in a conversation with a stranger, or in an exchange with someone within earshot of a child. There is no excuse for using such a term in public, and anyone using such a vulgar phrase in metaphorically littering our civic and cultural environment.

2. Colbert is a performer on a network TV show. The fact that it is on late at night is no mitigation of the ugly conduct here, just a rationalization (#22): at least it wasn’t on “Sesame Street.” Once, the four major TV networks, especially CBS, the Tiffany Network, the network that fired the Smothers Brothers for being excessively disrespectful to President Lyndon Johnson, had departments of standards and practices whose job it was to keep their bonds of trust with the American public that once invited into the collected homes of the nation, they would not abuse the privilege.

Stephen Colbert abused the privilege, and did so deliberately and flagrantly.

3. CBS, as a (once) respectable, responsible cultural leader and communications icon was obligated to suspend Colbert immediately.

If he had made such an ugly comment about Barack Obama, CBS would have done so. If a late night host had made such a comment about any previous President, it would have done so. (If he had made such a comment about President Hillary Clinton, Colbert would have been fired.) It should make no difference to CBS’s assessment of its obligations that it may calculate that a sufficient number of CBS audience members are poisoned with hate and have the manners and tastes of crude lowlifes. The network’s role in society is to maintain and even elevate our cultural standards, not to accelerate their degradation. Continue reading

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From The “Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump” Files: The President’s Civil War Musings

It took Dan Rather to force me into this quagmire.

As you may have heard by now, the President was being interviewed and the topic of Andrew Jackson came up, the great, flawed, fascinating man who was the first populist President and who reshaped the Presidency and the American political system. Donald Trump quite logically identifies with Jackson, and if he can show half the governing skill and leadership abilities of Old Hickory, the U.S. will be ever in his debt. at one point, Trump said…

As we have seen again and again, if Donald Trump said that the sky was blue, pundits and journalist would erupt with indignation and mockery about the statement, because everyone knows that the sky isn’t blue, it just looks blue. This is the Left and “the resistance” telegraphing their complete abandonment of fairness, good will and proportion regarding the President of the United States. It is transparent, it is intellectually dishonest, and it is now boring and annoying, since it began more than  a year ago. In this case, talking heads who know virtually nothing about Andrew Jackson were screaming on CNN about how “stupid” Trump’s statement was. At The Washington Post,  Aaron Blake wrote in his essay, “Trump’s totally bizarre claim about avoiding the Civil War”:

Historians with more academic experience than Trump have indeed asked this question about the Civil War often… It’s generally assumed that a deal to avert the Civil War would have included concessions to Southern states having to do with their right to own slaves — the central dispute of the Civil War. Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery? Was there really a deal to be cut on that front? Or does he think Jackson, a slave owner himself, would have convinced the South to abandon slavery immediately, somehow?

Ann Althouse nailed this one: if Trump’s question about the Civil War is so “bizarre,” how come historians have asked the question “often”?

The simple and ugly answer is to much of  Left and the news media,  what Trump says is presumptively stupid or sinister, even if others saying the exact same thing would be ruled reasonable and benign. (See: Loyalty Day)

But I am so tired of this game. Until a friend posted an attack on Trump’s statement by Dan Rather, I had decided to let this round pass. After Dan’s ignorant and biased take, I couldn’t stay on the sidelines.

He wrote on Facebook, the only forum regularly available to him because no legitimate news organization would sully its credibility by having a journalist who tried to influence a Presidential election by representing a forged document as authentic, and who still won’t admit that there was anything wrong with that…

I wanted to let this story go. I really did. I don’t want to be distracted from all the important things taking place. Where are we on the Russia investigation again?

But the sheer craziness of this obsession by Donald Trump with Andrew Jackson and the Civil War is a carnival act unlike anything I have ever seen at the White House. And not to let something drop, there is Mr. Trump on Twitter just recently pouring gasoline on the fires of his ignorance.

Never mind that Mr. Trump’s knowledge of American history seems below that of most gradeschoolers. Never mind that in many people’s view, Jackson is not exactly the kind of president, or man, you would want to hold up as an example. And never mind that there is an implicit criticism of arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. (It reminds me of his slam against John McCain and how war heroes aren’t captured. Apparently great presidents don’t wage a war to keep the Union together).

These are the rantings of someone who really should be focused on the job of governing. Should we not conclude that he approaches policy decisions with the same half-baked conspiracies with which he apparently approaches history?

To be President of the United States is to part of the great American story. To not understand that story is to not understand the presidency. Maybe Frederick Douglass can give Mr. Trump some advice. Apparently, he’s “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”

This is a post that demonstrates Rather’s ignorance and poor reasoning, not President Trump’s. Continue reading

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Political Opposition Incompetence: Will “The Resistance” Ever Figure Out That It’s Embarrassing Itself?

Today, May 1, another segment of the so-called “resistance” to the legal, democratically established Presidency of Donald J. Trump will be holding rallies to proclaim the “right” of foreign citizens to break US law by entering the country illegally, and to stay here unmolested as long as they don’t commit another serious crime, and maybe even if they have.  Despite its enthusiastic support from the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, this concept is so self-evidently bats that most American and even most Hispanic-Americans reject it, but never mind: we will hear and see passionate speakers all day long advocating the non-enforcement of essential laws and the adoption of some kind of bizarre system allowing illegal residents to be treated like legal residents as long as they limit their law-breaking to, say, just endangering the public by driving drunk.

I wonder if Mothers Against Drunk Driving agrees that illegal immigrants should not be treated too harshly for DUI convictions. Actually, I wonder if the anti-Trump, pro-illegal immigrant forces have enough self awareness to realize that their argument is worthy of the Bizarro World.

Incompetent, foolish sounding and acting political opposition to the party in power is in nobody’s interest, especially the U.S. democratic system. However, addressing this requires enough self-awareness to realize when your advocacy has crossed the line into absurdity. Currently a critical mass of Democrats and progressives lack self-awareness, and that’s an understatement. Continue reading

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