Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

1. Stipulated: President Trump contradicts himself, misrepresents facts and exaggerates routinely. But how can Biden supporters use that as their rationalization? Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly promised to ban fracking during the primaries; now, campaigning in Pennsylvania where fracking means jobs and business, both are suddenly pro-fracking.

On August 13, Biden said that he would call for a nationwide face mask mandate. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said . “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.” Kamala Harris, like Biden a lawyer, agreed. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”

Biden reiterated his vow in his acceptance speech on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said on August 20. “It’s a patriotic duty.” Of course, any second year law student and probably some astute college freshmen could have told the Democratic ticket that the government can’t require citizens to wear anything, and that the two were talking Constitutional nonsense aimed at the Bill of Rights-challenged members of the Democratic base, which is most of it.

Then over the weekend,  Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

Didn’t he and Harris already know this? If not why not; in fact, why the HELL not? Why wasn’t the news media “factchecking” Biden when he made a manifestly impossible pledge?

There is no advantage or ethical superiority in saying things that are untrue some of the time as opposed to doing it more often. Any politician who shows a lack of integrity, whose words can’t be relied upon and who changes his supposed views depending on what audience is listening to him or her is untrustworthy, and untrustworthy is untrustworthy. You are either worthy, or you’re not. Two instances like the fracking and mask reversals are enough to know Biden and Harris are not candidates who mean what they say. (You should have figured that out already, though.)

And, of course, sometimes if they DO mean what they say, it’s disturbing. Continue reading

“White Lives Matter” Is Racist, Black Lives Matter Is Benign” You Say? Prove It.

I know this is “It’s okay to be white” all over again, but its still amazing that anyone can argue that “Black Lives Matter” is a benign motto, but that clever line, “All Lives Matter” or now, “White Lives Matter” is a racist expression and look at themselves in the mirror afterwards and not blush.

Someone painted “White Lives Matter” on Kent State University’s “front-campus rock,” where students traditionally paint graffiti. It was immediately condemned as a “direct threat” to black students. Kent State President Todd Diacon issued a statement claiming  the incident (together with some recent police-involved deaths of blacks, most of which have not been credibly attributed to racism)  “serve as glaring evidence that this university and our country need to do better when addressing racism and violence against Black Americans.” He also said the university would establish an Anti-Racism Task Force which will “explore all facets of racism at Kent State.” Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics, 9/6/2020: Dog Food, A T-Rex, An Astronaut, The Pope…But No 2020 Campaign Items Whatsoever! Let’s Hear A Little Applause!

1 . Boy, the Pope must hate the U.S. media. ‘Did you hear that four people say the President called our soldiers “losers”? It’s true! They really say that!’

Pope Francis called gossiping a “plague worse than COVID” and risks dividing  the Catholic Church. The devil, he says, is the “biggest gossiper.” who is seeking to divide the church with his lies.

Francis was discussing a Gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy calls this the “fraternal correction” of priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public. You know; like when they sexually abuse children. “Gossip” apparently means “talking about things the Church is trying to cover-up.”

Got it, Your Holiness!

2. Proposition: It’s unethical to buy your dog’s food at the Dollar Store. Sunshine Mills Inc., an Alabama-based pet food company, issued a recall of its dog food this week due to the levels of Aflatoxin, a toxic mold by-product with  the potential of making dogs sick, according to a Food and Drug Administration news release. The products recalled are  FAMILY PET Meaty Cuts, Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavors;  HEARTLAND FARMS Grilled Favorites Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavor; and HAPPY LIFE Butcher’s Choice Dog Food. All are sold exclusively at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores.

I wonder if they sell baby food? Continue reading

Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!

Good Wednesday!

It will probably not surprise you to learn that I have been a huge Charles Addams fan since I was a child, when I borrowed every one of  his collections from the Arlington Public Library. My two favorites, I think: the unicorns on a rock gazing sadly after the Ark as it floats away in the rain, and the butchers and his sons being attacked by links of sausages, mirroring the famous statue of Laocoön and his sons being devoured by serpents.

Laocoön’s fate is an ethics fable: Troy’s priest tried to warn the Trojans that the huge wooden horse was a trap, but instead of heeding his warning, the Trojans, having convinced themselves that the thing was a gift from the gods, assumed that the priest and his sons had been killed because the warning was blasphemy. In truth, the serpents had been sent by Poseidon, who was rooting for the Greeks all along. Historian Barbara Tuchman used the story of Laocoön in her book “The March of Folly,” a frequent topic on Ethics Alarms.

I was just depressed to discover, as I searched for a picture of Wednesday online, that the one above is only one of two out of hundreds that were genuine Addams drawings of her. What does that tell us?

1. More manipulated media. Yes, Twitter should flag these sorts of deceptions as long as they are non-partisan about it. In addition to the Steve Scalise fake I wrote about here, Twitter pointed out two more, also from the Republicans. White House social media director Dan Scavino posted a 2011 Joe Biden interview from California-news outlet KBAK that was altered to make it falsely appear as if Biden had fallen asleep—“Sleepy Joe,” get it? The fake was pointed out by John Dabkovitch, KBAK’s co-anchor at the time, who noted that the interview was actually with singer Harry Belafonte, not Biden. (I always get those two mixed up too.)

Then the Twitter account @TrumpWarRoom, which is the Trump campaign, posted a tweet that lifted Biden’s words out of context so it seems like Joe said “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” when he was quoting what Trump was suggesting in his remarks.

Like the Scalise tweet, both of these are embarrassingly stupid, and mandate firings. How can anyone tolerate a social media director who does something like this? He probably cheated on his SATs…[Pointer: valkygrrl]

2. I hereby volunteer to be the President’s 24-7 Ethics-sitter this kind of  stuff  doesn’t happen.... During his visit to peaceful protest-ravaged Kenosha,  the President wanted to have a photo op in front of the century-old Rode’s Camera Shop, which was peacefully burned out a week ago. The owner, Tom Gram, is not a fan, however, and he declined President Trump’s request to participate in the damage tour yesterday.  So the Trump flacks tracked down the previous owner and descendant of the original owners. He sold the shop eight years ago to Gram, yet President Trump  introduced him as “John Rode III, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop.” Rode went on to praise the President. Rode does own the property where the camera shop had been. [Again, pointer: valkygrrl]

3. Why do they keep doing this? First it was the Mayor of Chicago who violated her own pandemic edicts to have her hair done, and now it’s Nancy Pelosi, caught below at a salon, maskless…

…(“You must wear your mask!” she commanded Americans earlier last month) as she sought beautification at a San Francisco hair salon  this week despite local ordinances keeping salons closed. This is hypocrisy and entitled behavior, plus “laws are for the little people,” personified. Continue reading

Continued Still…From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag: “What’s Your Reaction To Various Ethics Controversies, Including The Use Of The White House, During The Republican National Convention?” Part 3: The White House

The question that spawned this long post [ Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here] was, “What’s your opinion of Trump using the White House as a political prop?”

D. The White House

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Trump will further “destroy” American precedents if given a second term in office. “This is what we can expect in a second Trump administration,” Schumer said. “All the rules, norms, values that have made this country great, Donald Trump will destroy them. He doesn’t care. He only cares about himself. The rules are you shouldn’t sit in the White House and give a speech at a convention. Donald Trump says, ‘I want to do it.’ So they do it.”

There’s no such rule. The President isn’t covered by the Hatch Act, and given all the political uses of The White House by previous Presidents, I’d love to hear the argument that a speech being delivered to a virtual convention during a pandemic using the White House as a backdrop is unconscionable, or even unethical.

Professor Julian Zelizer, whose field is history and public affairs at Princeton University, said that  using the White House as a “prop” at a party convention is “unprecedented” in recent times. “There still is a boundary between politics and governing, and the Oval Office and White House are a public site meant for the country that isn’t meant to be a political backdrop,” Zelizer told ABC News. “To just use it as the major site for a convention speech seems like a lot with President Trump — you just take all the guardrails down.”

Cite, please. That something is “unprecedented” doesn’t make it unethical. The White House has been used as a political prop many times, just not at a convention. Nothing has been quite as grubby as Bill Clinton selling nights in the Lincoln bedroom for big money donations, but way back in the Kennedy Administration, the nation gushed over lovely Jackie Kennedy  hosting a televised tour of her “home,” bolstering the developing legend of how graceful and refined the young First Couple were. (Jack was probably banging a starlet while Jackie was being filmed.) Go ahead, tell me that “special” wasn’t “unprecedented” or political. Continue reading

Continued…From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag: “What’s Your Reaction To Various Ethics Controversies, Including The Use Of The White House, During The Republican National Convention?” Part 2: The First Family And “Government Functions”

The question of whether the just-completed GOP convention breached ethics rules or principles as many are claiming is multi-faceted. In the first section of this three-part  post, I considered the ugly facet of the event’s many Hatch Act violations. The rest is more equivocal.

B. The First Family

No doubt about it, President Trump’s family set a record for speaking time at a national party convention. For Trump-haters—and this really is what we’re talking about in this section and nothing else—the display was nauseating. One of the inquirers  pronounced this “Royal Family” behavior, and even suggested a dark conspiracy to pave the way for more Trumps at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Talking Point Alert! The “All Trump Hate All The Time” New York Magazine called the parade of Trump children the kind of “dynastic overkill that only this President would dare flaunt.” Well, only one previous President had the opportunity to approach this one by using so many adult children as flacks, and he chose to pass: George H.W. Bush. Then again, he lost.

I wouldn’t cross the street to hear any of the President’s family speak, but the claim that there is something unethical about putting them on the program is just about as perfect an example of Trump Derangement as you could find. Trump is an old guy, and leads the Presidential historical field in adult, politically active children. His kids, and his son in-law, are attractive, poised, and experienced. Chelsea Clinton spoke in support of her mother at the 2016 Democratic National Convention: if there was any criticism of her appearance as unethical, I missed it—and she was not the first offspring of a President or Presidential candidate to have a speaking slot. So what’s the alleged ethical breach here? It appears to be the “it’s unethical to have more than an unspecified number of Presidential children speak at a convention when you’re Donald Trump” rule. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag: “What’s Your Reaction To Various Ethics Controversies, Including The Use Of The White House, During The Republican National Convention?” (Part I: The Hatch Act))

I have been asked this by a couple of friends, all resolute Trump Deranged, card-carrying, “I’d vote forJoe Biden if he shot someone in Times Square while sexually harassing a teenage girl, wearing a duck on his head and screaming, ‘I am Captain Midnight!'” Democrats. It shouldn’t matter, and indeed doesn’t change my answers, that they are the ones asking the question: it’s a valid question.

But it’s also like the “Trump Lies” issue. Ethics estoppel kicks in. I don’t care to hear outrage over Trump’s various torturing of facts from the same people who smile and applaud while Michelle Obama and others repeat the “fine people” lie at the Democratic National Convention, or the Bizarro World accusation that the President is responsible for the riots. These hypocrites don’t care about political dishonesty except  when it is being wielded by an adversary, and they are really trying to recruit me in their partisan efforts as an “appeal to authority.”

My macro reply to the Republican National Convention’s various dents, nicks, sideswipes and out-right trampling of ethics rules and principles is this:

“Many of the decisions regarding the content of the Convention were made in defiance of law, regulations and tradition. This was unethical. The President of the United States should not be unethical, and being so flamboyantly unethical undermines the culture.”

Full stop.

However, there is a lot more to consider. Continue reading

Lazy Saturday Ethics Diversions, 8/22/2020: Hypocrisy Again

1. “Wait…what did he call you? “  Does nobody understand how ridiculous this is? In a recent re-viewing of a “Law and Order” episode from the ’90s, I watched the excellent Courtney B. Vance (later outstanding as Johnny Cochran in the O.J. mini-series) play a Wall Street trader whose defense for killing a white manager in his firm was that systemic racism had driven him to it. When he testified in his trial, he  explained that his victim had called him a. That’s right,  “a.” the word following “a” was censored, even though the word was central to the plot. It is lmost 30 years after that episode first aired, and we are subjected to more censorship than less.

Either air the whole episode, or don’t air it at all, if the word “nigger” is just too horrifying.

The jury found Vance’s character guilty. Good. How can you kill someone just for calling you “a”?

2. And since we’re talking about racial slurs….During an NBA contest, LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell called  opposing player Luka Dončić a “pussy ass white boy.” 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would call that a racial epithet. Any white player in the NBA—there must be five or six—that called Harell an “a” would be suspended or worse. If that’s the new standard—that blacks can make racist slurs against whites while anyone uttering a racial slur against a black man is going to be fired, shunned and ostracized—we sanctioned targets of bigotry and harassment have a right to know.

This is apparently what Black Lives Matter calls “equity.”

I also have to add this obligatory note: most of the media accounts of what Harrell said required me to be a Wheel of Fortune ace. He called the white player a “p**** a** white boy” ? Can I buy a vowel? One source said the phrase was b***ch a** white boy. Does b***ch mean p****? I don’t think so. If the story is news because of what the black player called the what player, then you have to write what he said.

People ask me why I frequently note that most journalists aren’t very bright.  This is one of the reasons. Continue reading

Thursday Ethics Thirst-quencher, 8/20/2020: Actually, This Doesn’t Taste So Good….

I filled in a gap in my history knowledge today, one I’m embarrassed to have had for so long. I remember being creeped out the first time I heard John Hinckley crooning the song he dedicated to Jodie Foster on her answering machine at Yale. “Ohhh Jodie! Ohhh Jodie! My love will turn you on!” All these years, I thought Hinckley had composed that song in his sick infatuation. Today, almost 40 years later, I found out that he just ripped off a John Lennon song called “Oh Yoko,” which I heard for the first time on the Beatles Channel on Sirius-XM. Am I the only one who didn’t know that? My ignorance is my fault: I would no more listen to anything extolling Yoko than I would voluntarily groove on “William Shatner’s Greatest Hits.”

And what was it about  Beatles compositions that inspired aspiring killers?

1. Yes, this seems rather irresponsible...Here’s a trailer for an upcoming Netflix series:

Over at The American Conservative, columnist Rod Dreher is disgusted, with good reason. He writes in part,

“Twerking their way to stardom. Eleven years old….These are little girls, and this Netflix show has the acting like strippers as a way of finding their way to liberation. What is wrong with these Netflix people? Do they not have children? Do they think our daughters are only valuable insofar as they can cosplay as sluts who are sexually available to men? ….There is nothing politicians can do about this…I hope sometime this fall a Senate committee calls Netflix CEO Reed Hastings] to Capitol Hill and forces him to talk about how proud he is that he has 11 year olds twerking on his degenerate network.”

Continue reading

Goodyear’s “No Tolerance” Policy Is Cowardly, Unethical, And Wrong, And The President’s Response Was Worse.

An angry employee took that photo of a slide used in a diversity training  program.  Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s has a “zero-tolerance policy”,” and like almost all such policies, the employee or committee charged with developing it lacked the wisdom, perspective, legal guidance, common sense, and ethics skills to do it competently.  The employee says the obviously incompetent slide above was presented at the Topeka plant by an area manager and says the slide came from Goodyear’s corporate office out of Akron, Ohio.

“If someone wants to wear a BLM shirt in here, then cool. I’m not going to get offended about it. But at the same time, if someone’s not going to be able to wear something that is politically based, even in the farthest stretch of the imagination, that’s discriminatory,” said the whistle-blower. “If we’re talking about equality, then it needs to be equality. If not, it’s discrimination.”

Bingo. A lawyer could hardly do better. Here’s one, Professor Turley, regarding the slide: Continue reading