The Audacious And Everlasting Hypocrisy Of Al Gore

In June, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Al Gore about his apparent energy-use hypocrisy:

TAPPER: This is a criticism we hear from conservatives all the time when talking about people like you or Elon Musk or Leonardo DiCaprio, that you, yourself, have a large carbon footprint.

GORE: Yes. Well, I don’t have a private jet. And what carbon emissions come from my trips on Southwest Airlines are offset. I live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible.

As Ann Althouse noted at the time, for  a carbon-based organism like Gore to claim to be living carbon-free is a demonstration of shocking ignorance by someone who has been making his millions as an earth-science huckster. To me, the amazing thing was that after repeatedly showing that he couldn’t pass a middle-school science test (as when he declared on national TV that the core of the Earth was “several million degrees”)

After he found himself the official guru of global warming hype, Gore should have had the sense and discipline to educate himself and really learn about the topics he was purporting to be an expert on. He obviously didn’t bother; like the similarly lazy Sarah Palin, he figured that the people who agreed with him weren’t going to be that discerning, so mastery of facts wasn’t worth the trouble.

The other infuriating aspect of Gore’s answer to Tapper  was his “offset” excuse. That just  meant “I’m rich, so I pay to for all my carbon pollution.” Gore really believes that leaving a carbon footprint the size of Godzilla is responsible conduct for a climate change shill telling the peasants that they must change their life-style, because he can “offset” it. He really believes that’s fair and honest.

In the wake of Gore’s sequel to his error and hype-filled climate change alarmist documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” the National Center For Public Policy Research, which had embarrassed Gore with its 2007 revelations after his first documentary, checked to see if Al, as he promised at the time, had addressed his own polluting ways. It checked Gore’s electricity usage information through public records requests and conversations with the Nashville Electric Service (NES), and found.. Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Reubin Askew ( 1928-2014)

Askew

In a better United States where only character, demonstrated skill, experience and leadership ability were necessary to become President, Reubin Askew would have been one. Unfortunately looks, luck, money and timing are important too. Askew had the looks, all right; he just missed the other three.

Never mind. Reubin Askew, who died yesterday, did all right.

His father was an alcoholic, and soon his mother had divorced him and was supporting Reubin and his five siblings as a single mother in Pensacola, Florida. She worked as a waitress, seamstress and hotel maid, while Reubin shined shoes, bagged groceries, delivered newspapers and sold his mother’s homemade pies door to door to do his part to support the family. After graduating from high school in Pensacola,  Askew served two years in the Army and, thanks to the G.I. Bill, graduated from Florida State in Tallahassee, where he was elected student body president. He was an Air Force officer during the Korean War, and in 1956 graduated from the University of Florida law school. That same year he joined a Pensacola law firm, and married Donna Lou Harper, who remained his wife for 57 years, until he died.

Askew ran for Florida’s House of Representatives in 1958, and won. After four years in the House, and eight more as a state senator, he ran for governor.  He was already nicknamed  “Reubin the Good,” and his opponent, Republican Claude Kirk, ridiculed the well-publicized fact that Askew, a devout Christian, never drank, smoked or used curse words by referring to him as a “mama’s boy,” not tough enough for high office. Askew’s rebuttal: “I love my mama.”  He won easily. Continue reading

Al Gore, Hustler

Gore Hustler

Al, as he is portrayed by the climate change skeptic community. He has no one to blame but himself.

I have mixed feelings about Al Gore. On one hand, I have great compassion for the man, as one of two Presidential candidates in our history to win more popular votes than his adversary, still lose the Presidency, and fail to take the office in a subsequent attempt. I know that would make me angry, bitter and perhaps a little crazy, and in that respect, Al has handled his misfortune well.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t trust Al Gore to deliver a birthday card to John Edwards. Back when I was running a struggling national health care promotion and education non-profit, Senator Gore was the organization’s patron saint, giving us endorsements, opening doors to corporate contributors, and generally bolstering our efforts. I was warned, though, by one of his staffers, not to get too dependent on Gore’s passion. “The Senator likes to find the hot issue and lead it,” she told me. “But he’s been on health care for a while now, and if history is any measure, he’ll move on to something else soon. Don’t rely on his support.” Sure enough, Gore became the herald of “the information super-highway,” later known as the internet, shortly thereafter, and dropped my organization and the health promotion issue flat, without a warning or a good-bye. He just stopped answering our calls.

Gore finally found his perfect hot issue, literally in this case, as the front man for global warming. He has made millions from the issue and the notoriety it brought him, which is fine; he also greatly contributed to public awareness of the issue, which is a good thing: any public awareness of any real public policy issue is an improvement. On the minus side, Gore failed to follow through on his responsibilities and obligations as a spokesperson for climate change policies. He never educated himself on the science of climate change sufficiently to avoid making embarrassing gaffes, and he has continued to over-hype the topic, making apocalyptic pronouncements, treating projections and models as more conclusive than they are, making irresponsible and factually misleading statements,  and generally imitating the technique of the Bush Administration regarding Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.”

He was at it again this week, conclusively affirming that he has crossed the line from advocate to hustler. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Florida Highway Patrol

Huge Manatee

Do you recall the post last week about the brain-dead reaction of various website commenters to the Florida arrest prosecution of a man for harassing a manatee?

If they had been commenting about this incident, they would have been on firm logical and ethical ground.

Anthony Brasfield and his girlfriend shared a carefree, romantic interlude one Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard, as they released a dozen red and silver mylar heart-shaped balloons and watched them rise, up, up, up into the air, then slowly float away, high and far, until they became tiny specks against the blue. They squeezed each other’s hands, smiled, and…got arrested by a Florida highway patrol state trooper on the spot.

Brasfield was charged with the environmental crime of helium pollution, under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.Aggravating the offense apparently was the fact that endangered marine turtle species and birds make their abode in John U. Lloyd State Park, about 1.5 miles east of the motel. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. Continue reading

The Most Unethical Businesses and Viatical Settlements

A British website has posted its list of the “10 Most Unethical Ways to Make Money.” Like all such lists, there are some eyebrow-raising choices, both in what is included and what is not, usually attributable to the political and ideological biases of the list-makers. For example, until we have figured out a way to run civilization without oil, it is more than a bit unreasonable to declare the entire oil industry unethical, climate change or no climate change. Oil is on the list, though, while child porn, drug dealing and gambling are not. The list could be the result of a collaboration among Greenpeace and Ron Paul.

Still, most of the inclusions on the list, like blood diamonds, ivory, and sweat shops are neither surprising nor controversial. Placing one of the businesses on the list, however, qualifies as a public service. Most people have no idea what the industry is, or what is unethical about it.

That business is the viatical settlement industry, which preys on human impulsiveness and irresponsibility to make large profits. Unfortunately, the list’s brief explanation of the industry misses its most unquestionable and sinister incarnation: buying structured settlements. Continue reading

Bottled Water Ethics

The Nation, with some good links, makes the rather easy case that giving up bottled water is the most ethical course, not to mention the frugal and logical one.

The one exception where bottled water can be justified is for air travel, since one can’t bring bottled anything through security and the airlines are stingy with drinks. Even in that case, there is a more responsible alternative: bringing  empty water bottles and filling it from a water fountain after going through security.

If only I could remember to take the damn thing…

The Ethics of Giving Up on Ethics

Paul Daugherty, a sportswriter for the Cincinnati Enquirer,recently wrote a column expressing a theme I hear all too often regarding politics, government, education, and society generally. Motivated by the steroid allegations against yet another hero, Lance Armstrong, Daugherty penned his surrender to a culture that doesn’t seem to care about ethics. Daugherty wrote:

“Everyone wants sports to be equitable. We all desire the level field. No one wants sports to be as drugged up as Woodstock in 1969. But it is. We’ve fought the ethical fight. We’ve lost. It could be time to let it go.
Even the athletes who lose still win. Mark McGwire got his, Barry Bonds got his, Brian Cushing got his. If you wait enough, deny enough, then rationalize believably, you get yours. Disgrace fades. Only Olympic athletes wear the stink of doping longer than the average 5-year-old’s attention span. In one respect, it’s not unlike the fight against legalizing marijuana. It has lasted so long, and now seems so pointless, I can’t even remember what we’ve been arguing about. We’ve become numb to it….It’s only a little outrageous now to suggest that a professional athlete be allowed to use performance-enhancing substances to his (enlarged) heart’s content, as long as he’s doing it legally….So what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” Continue reading

Saga of an Ethics Train Wreck: Climate Change Science

For those of you with an open mind: Der Spiegel has posted an exhaustively researched and remarkably even-handed explanation of how the clash of policymakers’ time-tables, advocates, researchers and an immensely complex area of science has the climate change issue confused beyond easy repairing. Its saga shows a true ethics train wreck, beginning with scientists compromising their credibility and objectivity by allying themselves with environmental advocates. Opponents of global warming used deceptive tactics to minimize the significance of legitimate research results, the media and politicians hyped results beyond their actual meaning, and then pro-climate change researchers compromised their own integrity by adopting unethical practices of their own. This process has been ongoing, and deteriorating, for almost a decade. Continue reading

Ethics Test for Republicans and Conservatives

President Obama’s unexpected announcement that he will reverse the long-time ban on off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas resources should help us answer an important question: Has the GOP’s intractable opposition to President Obama’s policies been based on principle, or the purely political motive of obstructing his presidency in order to win votes and power from a disillusioned and impatient electorate? Obama’s conservative critics on talk radio will be presented with the same test. Rush Limbaugh famously said that he wants Obama to fail: will that extend to a new Obama policy that Limbaugh has advocated in the recent  past?

Opening up off-shore drilling to exploit unused U.S. energy resources was a key plank in Republican John McCain’s campaign when he opposed Mr. Obama, and is anathema to many Obama supporters. If the Republican Party and its conservative media allies have a requisite amount of fairness and integrity, they will both praise the President and support him.

We shall see.

Dubious Ethics Studies, Part II

There are good reasons to be skeptical of all studies purporting to analyze what people think according to how they fit into common ideological categories. In 2003, a study purported to portray conservatism as a kind of mental disorder. In 2008, another series of studies was packaged to make the case that liberals were compassionate in words only, that when it came to putting one’s money where one’s conscience was, it was those mean old conservatives who opened their wallets. Now comes a study called “Do Green Products Make Us Better People?”published in the latest edition of the “Journal of Psychological Science.” Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, did a series of experiments comparing the behavior of patrons of “green” products and the conduct of the less environmentally correct. Continue reading