Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/ 2018: For Whom The Rex Tolls…

Good morning!

1. Another “growing crisis” to fear: Rorschach innuendo that people can interpret to confirm their own biases... Deposed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told graduates in his commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, that American democracy was threatened by a growing “crisis of ethics and integrity”:

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom. When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America.”

Verdict: True.

The New York Times, without hesitation, calls Tillerson’s remarks a “veiled rebuke” of President Trump, and “veiled” doesn’t even make it into the headline.

Why isn’t this just as much of a “veiled rebuke” of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama (“If you like your plan…”), James Comey, Andrew Cuomo, Elizabeth Warren (I’d say her continuing Native American lie is a perfect example of a trivial matter that matters), Chris Christie, Senator Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi ( The U.S. Supreme Court is “five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal.”, “I don’t know who (Jonathan Gruber) is,”  “In the first year of the Obama administration, more jobs were created in the private sector than in the eight years of the Bush administration.”…and so on, and on…), Newt Gingrich, Senator Richard Blumenthal, new head of the NRA Oliver North, and many, many others in both parties?

You know why: the media’s agenda is focused only on denigrating Trump. As for Tillerson, his statement is consistent with what The Ethics Scoreboard and Ethics Alarms have been trying to explain for nearly two decades now, with one major, ethical difference: I don’t use weasel words and innuendo, and Tillerson did. If the ex-Secretary of State has a whistle to blow, let him blow it, and not litter the scene with whistles so anyone can blow them to their own ends. Statements like his are worthless without specifics, and merely arm partisans, hacks and character assassins.

I also don’t accept ethics lectures from oil company executives. I’m funny that way.

2. And speaking of a crisis of ethics and integrity…and trustworthiness…Here is the New York Times correction yesterday on a story attacking a piece on Foundation for Defense of Democracies chief executive Mark Dubowitz:

I don’t know what the maximum number of errors in a single story is that can be corrected before a responsible reader has to say, “The hell with this rag; I’m going back to the Weekly Reader!”, but whatever the limit is, this easily exceeds it. The New Yorker used to publish such corrections  as humor, except the excerpt would be from The Hooterville Register, not the New York Times. Don’t you love the equivocal “referred inaccurately” weasel words? Saying that a salary that is actually in line with similar salaries in the field is twice such salaries isn’t “inaccurate,” it is a gross and inexcusable mistake.

Gee, I wonder if Rex was rebuking the leading news media…. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce Who Exemplifies Why This Anti-Gun Freakout Won’t Be Any More Successful Than The Last One: Senator Bernie Sanders

Bernie is still the presumptive leader in the 2020 Democratic Presidential sweepstakes, right? No wonder Democrats are running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Senator Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last week  that “We have to end the absurdity of the gun show loophole. Forty percent of the guns in this country are sold without any background checks.”

This is a fake stat that has been disproved many times. Obama used it. As always happens, the anti-gun advocates simply won’t play fair and try to win this policy debate using facts and reason. They always default to emotionalism, fear-mongering, dishonest journalism (I’ll be writing about CNN’s disastrous “town meeting” later), lies, distortions, and fake statistics. When the emotional rush of the particular tragedy is over, and non-substantive cries like “Never again!”, “Your right to own a gun shouldn’t trump a child’s right to live!”, “Do something!” and “Kill the NRA!” lose their power to persuade people no longer in grade school, sufficient numbers of citizens stop and think, “You know what? We can’t trust these people! They lie.”

And so they do.

As some wags have said today, when the Washington Post can’t even resist pointing out that your anti-gun claims are nonsense, you’re really in trouble.

Glenn Kessler, the Post’s Factchecker, made short work of Bernie, hitting him with four Pinocchios and calling his “gun show loophole” a “zombie claim, false facts that keep getting repeated, no matter how often we fact-check them.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/25/17: The Clinton Campaign’s Russian Dossier Connection, Her Lying Lawyer, And Jeff Flake

GOOD MORNING!

1 I have long been an admirer of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who is one of the few members of Congress, more’s the pity, who will stick to his principles even when they pit him against his own party. However, his freak-out and verbal attack on President Trump accomplish nothing positive (unless you consider making Democrats happy positive) and  at this point constitute pure self-indulgence and, yes, these words are coming up a lot lately, virtue-signalling and grandstanding. I have no sympathy for Flake, Senator Corker, or any other Republican leaders who stood by and allowed Donald Trump to hijack their party. The time for Flake to take a stand was last March, or even earlier. Ethics Alarms stated that the GOP shouldn’t have let Trump into the debates or on its ballot. I said that he should have been kicked out of the debates when he began trashing the party, and when he  became disgustingly boorish and uncivil. I explained that it could have and should have refused to nominate him by changing the rules. The party had a duty to the country to present a competent, trustworthy alternative to the corrupt, venal, dishonest candidate the Democrats were going to nominate: everyone knew who that would be. Instead, the GOP sold its soul. Jeff Flake now says that Trump is reckless, outrageous and undignified? Who didn’t know that? I assume the President’s  voters knew that. On Ethics Alarms, I wrote about those Trump character traits in 2011.

It is particularly galling for me to read Flake’s attack on Trump in the Washington Post today, which begins, “As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.” In fact, it makes me want to scream helplessly at the sky. In this Ethics Alarms post, I invoked Welch’s famous televised slap-down of Joe McCarthy before the first Republican candidates debate, and concluded “If someone doesn’t at least try it, none of these 15 non-Trumps are smart enough to be President.” I wrote that on September 16, 2015. 

Senator Flake is like a Senator  going to Honolulu in December of 1942 and proclaiming that the Japanese can’t be trusted. He deserves no sympathy or support now.

He should have been reading Ethics Alarms.

UPDATE: My friend and frequent ProEthics collaborator Mike Messer called this “flake news.”

2. I haven’t had time to thoroughly unravel what yesterday’s revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign funded what became the infamous “Russian dossier” means. A couple of points, however, Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Jimmy Carter

Say what you will about former President Jimmy Carter, he has never shied away from confronting what he believes are unpleasant truths. Thus he earns an Ethics Hero designation by telling New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd;

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about. I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

Hilariously, USA Today immediately proved Carter’s point by writing, in its naturally objective and fair story on the quote,

“Perhaps Carter is seeking to placate Trump as part of a job interview: The 93-year-old former president said he is willing to undertake a diplomatic mission to North Korea to discuss its nuclear weapons program.”

In a related and illuminating story, former NPR CEO Ken Stern, nine years after he left the taxpayer- funded radio news network, has suddenly realized that there may be some liberal bias in the news media! His op-ed for the New York Post begins,

“Most reporters and editors are liberal — a now dated Pew Research Center poll found that liberals outnumber conservatives in the media by some 5 to 1, and that comports with my own anecdotal experience at National Public Radio. When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.”

Gee, that’s kind of nice. What we usually hear from reporters, editors and media management is that the accusation of partisan bias, based on such overwhelming evidence that it makes a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard look like a breeze, is just a Fox News myth, a conservative concoction and a false talking point. It would have been more nice, of course, if Ken Stern had come to this obvious conclusion and used his position to do something, rather than wait nine years and speak up when the average informed person reads his name on an article and thinks, “Who the hell is Ken Stern”?

I confess, I detest these too little, too late confessions of enlightenment, which are usually self-serving. I smell a book and an interview tour, don’t you?

Well, I won’t be reading it. Later in his conveniently tardy piece, Stern writes, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/16/17

1. It looks like Bill Cosby is going to be acquitted, and probably rightly so, though probably for the wrong reason: bias. The jury is deadlocked, and I’d bet my head that one or more hold-outs just can’t accept the fact that that nice Cliff Huxtable would do those horrible things unless the victim consented somehow. Cheat on his wife. maybe. But not that.

Celebrity defendants whose public images are benign begin criminal trials with automatic unreasonable doubt built-in; this is part of the reason O.J. and Robert Blake (“Baretta”) avoided murder convictions. Celebrities with less sterling reputations are not so fortunate: had Bill Cosby been the one who shot a woman he barely knew at his home under strange circumstances, he would have probably been acquitted. Unfortunately for Phil Spector, the pop record producer had a well-established reputation for being nuts. The reasons Cosby can be acquitted for just reasons is that the victim is on record calling and chatting with him dozens of times after she was drugged and sexually assaulted, and because only one of the 50 or so Cosby victims was allowed to testify to show a pattern of behavior. The standard of  proven  guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is intentionally difficult to meet. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Cosby is guilty, and his eventual acquittal won’t change my certainty. Nonetheless, those attacking the verdict and the jurors will be wrong, just as they were with O.J. and Casey Anthony.

2. One more thing regarding Cosby: yesterday I heard a CNN anchor who was about to interview another Cosby victim describe the woman as someone who has accused Bill Cosby of “inappropriate conduct.” The host caught herself, sort of, by adding, after a pause, “to say the least.” The woman claimed she had been raped. Even the anchor couldn’t bring herself to attach to dear, funny, sweet Cos such a heinous crime, so she engaged in craven equivocation. “Inappropriate conduct”?  Belching at the dinner table is inappropriate conduct. Drugging trusting young women and raping them is entirely different.

This is CNN.

 I regard a broadcast news journalist stating that Bill Cosby has been accused of “inappropriate conduct” misleading, incompetent, and fake news. Continue reading

From The “The Fish Rots From The Head Down” Files: The Uber CEO’s “Miami Letter”

You wonder why Uber has ethics problems?

This is why Uber has ethics problems.

Uber is being investigated by two law firms hired to make assessments regarding the corporate practices and culture at the ride-sharing giant, determine what created the toxic environment that led to sexism, sexual harassment, other unethical management conduct, and recommend remedial measures. Usually in such situations, the problem stems from unethical leadership. Guess what? Uber’s unethical conduct stems from not merely unethical leadership, but a leader with ethics alarms that have rotted into dust and rust.

The two law firms recently uncovered a 2013 e-mail sent to Uber’s staff by  CEO Travis Kalanick before a company outing in Miami.  Internally referred to as the “Miami letter,” this thing screams “What was he thinking?”, “Where were the lawyers?” and “This guy might get elected President of the United States!”

Here is the e-mail; I’m going to bold some important features: Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “Double Standard” Files: Now THIS Is A Hate Crime! Wait…What’s That? There’s No Evidence Yet? I Stand Corrected!

Boy, some people see race in everything...

Boy, some people see race in everything

From Fox News yesterday:

Chicago investigators are questioning four African-Americans after a Facebook Live video shows a group of people torturing a white mentally disabled man while someone yelled “F*** Trump!” and “F*** white people!”

Chicago police were made aware of the video Tuesday afternoon. A young African American woman streamed the video live on Facebook showing at least four people holding the young white man hostage.

In the video, the victim is repeatedly kicked and hit, his scalp is cut, all while he is tied up with his mouth taped shut….The victim is … believed to have been held hostage and tortured in an apartment in the 3400 block of West Lexington on the West Side, Guglielmi said.

(That’s “Fuck Trump!” and “Fuck white people!”, just in case you thought the phrases were “Free Trump!” or “Feel white people!”)

Now here is how the Associated Press initially reported the story:

Chicago police say they are investigating a video circulating on social media that shows several people beating a man at a residence. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday that four suspects are in custody. Formal charges have not been filed.

Johnson says the victim, who has “mental health challenges,” is recovering. Johnson calls the video “sickening,” and Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin says the suspects made “stupid decisions.” Officers were called to a residence on the city’s West Side Tuesday evening where they found signs of a struggle and damaged property.

Videos of the alleged incident were posted on social media. Police say it is too soon to make a determination if the attack was racially motivated.

“Police say it is too soon to make a determination if the attack was racially motivated.”

!!!

KABOOM!

exploding-head5

There it is! The first head explosion of 2017!

[A brief pause while I mop, scoop, and re-fill…] Continue reading