Tag Archives: dishonesty

Orwellian Thought Manipulation As An Ideological Tactic: A Case Study

orwell-quote

Cognitive linguist  George Lakoff, a far left academic (but I repeat myself),  advises his partisan political brethren to build public opposition to the President’s regulation reform efforts by changing the word that we use to describe regulations:

President Trump has said that he intends to get rid of 75% of government regulations. What is a “regulation”?

The term “regulation” is framed from the viewpoint of corporations and other businesses. From their viewpoint, “regulations” are limitations on their freedom to do whatever they want no matter who it harms. But from the public’s viewpoint, a regulation is a protection against harm done by unscrupulous corporations seeking to maximize profit at the cost of harm to the public.

Imagine our minority President saying out loud that he intends to get rid of 75% of public protections. Imagine the press reporting that. Imagine the NY Times, or even the USA Today headline: Trump to Eliminate 75% of Public Protections. Imagine the media listing, day after day, the protections to be eliminated and the harms to be faced by the public.

Lakoff’s tactic is remarkable in its transparency. Increasingly, the Left has relied on misleading the public by injecting euphemisms and what I call “cover phrases” into policy debates and news reports to obscure the undesirable aspects of a favored measure, including its unethical nature, such as restricting  individual rights. Thus abortion, which involves trade-offs between two human lives and sets of rights, is referred to as “choice,” eliminating the life-taking aspect of the problem from the discussion entirely. Thanks to the efforts of Democrats with the cooperation of the communications media, race-based admission to educational institutions and hiring that may discriminate against whites and Asian-Americans are covered by the benign-sounding term, “affirmative action.” The most brazen of these linguistic cheats is the widespread practice of referring to illegal immigrants as immigrants, thus allowing advocates of unrestrained lawbreaking by uninvited aliens to tar good faith opponents  of open border and amnesty policies as xenophobes and racists.

Lakoff continues his cynical instruction  for aspiring Big Brothers: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, language

Ethics Lesson: Judges Can’t Campaign Like Other Candidates

false-campaign-ad

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia suspended Judge Stephen Callaghan for two years and fined him $15,000 for a campaign flyer that it deemed dishonest. The court said that the flier  depicted the incumbent judge, Gary Johnson, as “partying” with President Obama. Johnson had visited the White House for a federally required conference on fighting child trafficking, but  he didn’t see Obama there, there was no party, and no function involving alcohol. The flier was mailed out five days before the May 2016 election, which Callaghan won.  Callaghan won the election by 220 votes.

The flier was “in every sense, materially false” according to the decision. You can see it above. Photos of Obama and Johnson are shown next to each other. Obama is shown holding a beer and streamers are in the background. The caption reads, “Barack Obama & Gary Johnson Party at the White House.” The opposite side of the flier read,

“While Nicholas County lost hundreds of jobs to Barack Obama’s coal policies, Judge Gary Johnson accepted an invitation from Obama to come to the White House to support Obama’s legislative agenda. That same month, news outlets reported a 76% drop in coal mining employment. Can we trust Judge Gary Johnson to defend Nicholas County against job-killer Barack Obama?”

After Johnson objected to the flier ( and probably threatened to sic the Judicial Ethics Panel on him), Callaghan removed the flier from his Facebook pages and ran radio ads saying the flier’s “specific characterization of the White House visit may be inaccurate and misleading,” and “candidate Callaghan apologizes for any misunderstanding or inaccuracies.” Continue reading

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Note To Republicans: If You Are Going To Switch Sides Without Looking Like A Grandstanding Turncoat, You Have To Do A Better Job Explaining Why Than Chris Vance

That's Chris, about 12 rows up, third from the left...

(That’s Chris, about 12 rows up, third from the left…)

Chris Vance once was the  chair of the Washington state Republican Party. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate last year, and now is stuck in a bright blue state where conservatives are as popular as bedbugs. Trying another approach, he has come out with an op-ed announcing that he has joined the protesters in his state, which are challenging the President’s efforts to more tightly control immigration, refugees, and the threat posed by Islamic terrorists.

My crack (and indispensable) issue scout Fred found Vance’s article and passed it along, asking, “Does belonging to a party ethically require loyalty to its agenda? Or to its principles? Is belonging to a party inherently unethical? The Founding Fathers might have said yes.”

The answers to these are: 1) Belonging to a party, like any group, allows principled dissent and advocacy for more just and reasonable policies. When an individual cannot support any of a party’s agenda, then he or she has an obligation to go elsewhere. Can one element of the agenda, such as support or opposition to abortion, be a deal-breaker? Of course. 2) If a party member cannot support a party’s principles, than pretending to be a member of the party is inherently dishonest, a breach of integrity and unethical. 3) Democracy requires political parties to function, as all democracies have learned. The Founders would have disagreed, but we have had the benefit a couple hundred years of experience that they lacked.. The Founders also would have disagreed with allowing women to vote, blacks running for President, and children having Constitutional rights.

I doubt any of the questions apply to Chris Vance, however. What appears to be going on is that an unsuccessful politician has assessed the likelihood of conservative Republican going very far in California Northwest, and decided to re-invent himself as not just anti-Trump (that didn’t work, because he was anti-Trump during the campaign and still lost) but anti-President and pro-Left Wing Freakout. His real problem, judging from the column, is that Vance just isn’t very bright, or perhaps isn’t very skilled at hiding the fact that his core beliefs are adjustable. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Robert Reich

“I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students. Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event. So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth.”

—-Former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, spinning himself silly to allow his leftist-colleagues to duck accountability for the Berkeley rioting.

Nope, I don't believe it.

Nope, I don’t believe it.

Robert Reich isn’t a supposed to be a political hack. He’s a scholar and a former Cabinet member. Yet he felt it necessary to abandon all logic and honesty in order to try to shift blame for a leftist anti-Trump, anti-speech riot on a major college campus onto its targets. This might be good news: Reich is no fool, and maybe the Angry Left is beginning to realize that its tactics have backfired. So now it is just lying and blame-shifting. That’s an improvement. Sort of.

Reich’s statement is unbelievable on its face. He teaches at Berkeley, but does he really expect anyone to believe that in the middle of a night-time riot, he was in a position to recognize individual rioters and render an informed judgment regarding whether they were students? The school has more than 38,000 students! It is impossible for Reich to know all of them, and during the chaos of a riot at night, it is highly unlikely that he could even distinguish the students in his own classes. His  unequivocal statement that none of the rioters were students is a false one: he cannot know that. He cannot know they were “outside agitators.” He cannot know that he had never seen them before, especially since many of them were wearing masks.

Then he says that there are rumors that they were “right-wingers,” and in the next sentence implies the truth of those rumors. You know, I’ve heard rumors for years that Robert Reich is really one of the Seven Dwarfs, escaped from the fairy tale, like in “Enchanted.” The smart money is on “Doc.” However, since there isn’t a shred of evidence that this rumor is true, and thus suggesting otherwise would be unfair and dishonest, I would never, never state that Reich is close associate of Snow White and Dopey. Reich, however, feels constrained by no such principles, being, apparently, a devotee of the false dialectic employed by leftists for a century or so.

Boy, did I get sick of arguing with people like him is college. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Why Health and Human Services Nominee Price’s Smoking Gun Ethics Breaches Won’t Disqualify Him

smoking-gun

There was good news on the Trump Administration Ethics Train Wreck, still just pulling out of the station. Despite the ethically-challenged reaction fro the Trump transition team when it was revealed that Monica Crowley had plagiarized in her latest book, somebody, somewhere, persuaded the conservative radio talk-show host to resign her new White House post. Good. But as many—most?—predicted, the muck is just beginning to bubble to the surface.

CNN reports that Rep. Tom Price,Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services who will have much of the responsibility for dismantling Obamacare  without triggering a health system crash, appears to have engaged in a flagrant instance of using his position for financial gain.  Last year, Price purchased shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer [Full disclosure: I have one of their artificial hip joints, setting off metal detectors at airports all over the world] right before he introduced  legislation that would have directly benefited the company.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares in the company last March, and then, less than a week after the transaction,  introduced the HIP Act (Clever!) to delay until 2018 a regulation that industry analysts believed  would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet, one of two companies most affected by a regulation that limits payments for joint implant procedures. Not only did Price have a financial stake in the regulation he tried to stall,but after Price introduced  his bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee donated to the Georgia congressman’s reelection campaign.

Merely a coincidence, I’m sure.

Price is scheduled to appear before the Senate Health Committee this week, and the Senate Finance Committee later. He should withdraw, or failing that, Trump should pull the nomination. Price’s purchase of the Zimmer Biomet shares isn’t the first time he’s used inside information (the inside information being “I’m going to propose a bill”) to buy shares in a company. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he traded roughly $300,000 in shares over the past four years in health companies while pursuing legislation that could affect their bottom lines.

Yeccch. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Human Rights Watch Boards The Ethics Train Wreck

human-rights-watch

When a supposedly non-partisan organization behaves like Human Rights Watch has, placing a President Elect on its “human rights watch” before the individual has spent a day in office or even remotely violated any human’s rights, we should be grateful. It is a confession of bias and political motivation for all to see and remember for the future.

Yes, incredibly, the Washington, D.C-based organization prepared a  687-page World Report including a U.S. section substantially aimed at stoking the fear-mongering of the Left as a presumptive strike against the incoming executive branch of the U.S. Government.

Beginning by calling Trump’s campaign a “vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance,” the organization made hyperbolic characterizations of the campaign, which is, of course, all it has to go on. As Ethics Alarms has pointed out before, this is the equivalent of pre-crime. The group is calling Trump a human rights threat because it is looking into the future.

“Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the postwar human rights system at risk,” the group said in its statement announcing the report.  No, political campaigns, as Americans observe ruefully every election cycle,  have disturbingly little to do with what the politicians elected actually do. I’m sure Human Rights Watch knows that, but why should reality dissuade a political hit job?

What does Donald Trump have to do with political parties in Europe? He’s barely conversant regarding his own party. Never mind, never mind: the Left’s theory is that Trump is  to blame for anything and everything they don’t like, and if he hasn’t done some horrible thing yet, they know he will. And since they know he will, why wait before condemning him for it? Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics

Presenting The First New Rationalization Of 2017: #32A Imaginary Consent, or “He/She Would Have Wanted It This Way”

roxieThe addition of  New Rationalization #32A Imaginary Consent, or “He/She Would Have Wanted It This Way” to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List became obligatory after it got a work-out over the holidays. Disney turning long dead character actor Peter Cushing into a zombie performer for the new “Star Wars” film was defended with the claim, which was almost surely also used by his heirs who were paid handsomely for the use of Cushing’s CGI avatar.

And that’s always the way this rationalization arrives. Someone wants to profit through some dubious scheme or transaction, and uses the argument that a revered and quite dead family member, personage of importance or icon “would have approved,” or “would have wanted it.” Like its progenitor 32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing,” which employs misdeeds of presumably admirable figures of the past as precedent for misdeed in the future, this is an appeal to irrelevant authority. Worse, Imaginary Consent presumes what cannot possibly be determined without prior express statements from the deceased.

This is one reason why DNR (“Do not resuscitate”) orders are essential. Using a fictional consent to absolve a decision-maker from actual responsibility is both a dodge and cowardly, as well as dishonest. I remember the horrible day that my sister and I were called upon to decide whether to terminate my mother, who was unconscious, on life support and beyond recovery. We made the decision quickly, and what my mother “would have wanted” was never a factor. (She had delegated the decision on her own DNR to my sister.) What my mother wanted, we both agreed, was to live forever. She would have been willing to have her comatose body waiting for a miracle or a cure until the hospital crumbled around her….in fact, that’s why she delegated the decision without instructions. Sure, it would have been easier to fool ourselves with #32A. But it would have been a lie.

The other true story this rationalization makes be think of is the time the elderly parents of a friend decided to euthanize their wonderful, bounding, big and joyful dog Roxie, some kind of a felicitous hybrid between a boxer and a freight train. They were moving into a resort where dogs were not allowed.  I was aghast, but they insisted, “We just know Roxie wouldn’t be happy living with anyone else.”

I argued(they did not appreciate it), “You know what? I bet if she could talk, Roxie would say, ‘You know, I really like you guys, really, and I’ll miss you a lot, but on balance I think I’d rather keep living, thanks. I’ll miss you, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get over it. Have a great time in Florida.'”

They killed her anyway.

#32A is a way to pass off responsibility for an ethically  dubious decision on someone who is beyond participation in that decision, and sometimes even the victim of it. It is cowardly, unaccountable, and based on an assertion that may not be true.

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Special Thanks to Reader/Commenter Zoltar Speaks!, who suggested the new entry.

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