Tag Archives: ethics alarms

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/7/2017: A Salute, A Disgrace, An Idiot, And An Asshole

Good Morning!

1  I want to take a moment to salute the commenters here for a remarkable performance the past week regarding the re-emergence of the gun control debate following the Vegas Strip massacre. There have been a staggering 664 comments (so far) on the topic in various threads, two Comments of the Day (and another couple soon to be published), and a rare guest post. The level of discourse has been overwhelmingly high, and the sophistication and variety of opinion has been exemplary. Through all of this, there has been little of equal quality from the mainstream media and its pundits, while the quality of opinion and debate on television and from elected officials has been only slightly above the “Do something!” level still flourishing on Facebook. (I’m going to my Facebook feed now to pick a recent example. Let’s see…here’s one! This is a representative segment of the comments on this story on Mediaite, admittedly an especially dumb one, about MSNBC political analyst Steve Schmidt telling Bill Maher , among other simple-minded observations, that only seem relevant to the anti-gun hysterics, that  it is “harder to buy cough medicine than it is to buy an AK-47 or 50 of them”…

This guy is an idiot. Tell him to go buy cough syrup, then go buy an AK and come back in an hour and see what he has. I bet it would only be cough syrup.

is it in a liberal’s nature to murder unborn babies? just askin

It’s a birth control device for them.

Awww, you need attention

And you gave it

I live in your head

Why so many?

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Heroin is against the law, and yet we have a heroin epidemic. Automatic weapons, like the AK-47, are against the law and yet Steve Schmidt says they easier to get then cough syrup with codeine. He doesn’t even see his idiocy.

False equivalencies to justify your need to compensate, boring.

Well, you can get a semi-automatic one, but it’s a far cry from a military-grade automatic.

The left has issues with their vision. The unicorns that roam the landscape crapping skittles and pissing perfume block their view, I guess.

Damn you really are a mental nut case

Ugh.

Thank you, everybody.

You do Ethics Alarms proud..

2. In the category of “This is so obviously incompetent that I should have to write about it  The IRS awarded a sole source $7.25 million contract to Equifax to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud. This was after the credit company negligently allowed the personal data of millions of Americans to be hacked. The excuses being offered by the agency are hilarious. IRS officials claim they were forced by circumstances to issue the no-bid multi-million dollar contract to Equifax. The GAO calls this baloney. The IRS argued, in a letter to Congress, that the IRS  it was unaware of any fraud related to the company’s data breach.  No, it’s just that Equifax was incompetent and negligent to an inexcusable extent that ought to be criminal. Another defense offered by the IRS:  most of the data hacked by Equifax had already been revealed in previous corporate breaches, such as those at Target and Anthem.  WHAT? That’s like saying you are a trustworthy nanny because the child you let get run over by a car was already dying of cancer.

From Politico:

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the IRS decision.

“In the wake of one of the most massive data breaches in a decade, it’s irresponsible for the IRS to turn over millions in taxpayer dollars to a company that has yet to offer a succinct answer on how at least 145 million Americans had personally identifiable information exposed,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told POLITICO in a statement.

Ya think?

A. Cancel the contract.

B. Fire the head of the IRS and anyone in the chain responsible for this decision. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

A Hopefully Calming Word From Your Host [Updated]

I would not have predicted that the NFL Anthem Protest (Or is it the anti-Trump protest? The “there are still injustices in America protest”?) Ethics Train Wreck would be the topic to cause multiple meltdowns, name-calling bouts and potty-mouth attacks among the veteran commenters here. I’ve given up on predicting which issues will ignite the assembled, however.

I am proud of the passion and intelligence with which the regular participants in this forum attack the varied matters I throw down for consideration. At their best, even the most intense debates usually bring more light than heat, to use the dichotomy poor Howard K. Smith employed when William F. Bucklet snapped, called Gore Vidal a “queer” on live TV and threatened to punch him out.  However at least four veteran commenters here have had Buckley-esque flip-outs of late, and that will not do.

I don’t expect this blog to ever be “safe.” Bad, lazy, poorly reasoned, biased and partisan opinions should always be called out, and in terms that fit the offense. I do not want to police words, but when we move beyond fair or at least supportable assessments of comments into insults and the denigration of commenters, I expect the ethics alarms to ring out. If they don’t sound, I don’t know what the purpose of Ethics Alarms is. Theoretically, we are here to learn from each other, and that means giving each other the benefit of an assumption of good will, and occasionally a damn break.

Those who have contributed positively here for a lengthy period build up credits that will allow them to commit one or more egregious breaches of decorum without any adverse action. Ironically, I also expect the veterans and frequent commenters to be role models, and lead by example.

I also want to urge some commenters here to make an effort to curtail endless, circular one-on-one debates  in which the objective deteriorates into getting the last word. In the past, Ethics Alarms has seen some epic debates resembling the Hundred Years War. What is remarkable about all of them is that it was clear as glass from the start that neither combatant was going to yield, and indeed was even fairly processing what his or her adversary was saying. I confess: outside of checking in periodically and making sure that the exchange isn’t resembling a Tarantino film, I don’t read these very long. They are boring. And because they are boring, they make Ethics Alarms boring.

Commenters with agendas are also a problem. If you approach every issue here knowing immediately what position you are going to take before you even read the post, I submit that your objective is less helping us nourish an ethical society than something else. You need to think about that, because it makes you a less valuable participant here. It also can make you annoying.

One more thing I need to add (and am adding as I am in a Fairfax, VA hotel after a horrible sleepless night as I prepare for a presentation to local lawyers about legal ethics and technology: occasionally pushing another commenter’s buttons—you know who has them, and what to push—is occasionally justifiable, but becomes sadistic and abusive if engaged in as a regular tactic.

You know, I’ve met a lot of you. There isn’t one commenter that I have met that I don’t like. Every one is a smart, passionate, interesting person. I would recommend that before you start hurling abuse at another empty face in cyberspace, consider that, as Marge Simpson sang in “O Streetcar!,” “A stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met.”

We can get our work done civilly and respectfully. I’ve seen it. If all else fails, consider the advice of Elwood P. Dowd:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.

I recommend both.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid"

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/2017: Climate Change Deceit, Jimmy Kimmel, Trump’s Golf Ball Attack, Stephen King, And How to Cover The Left’s Epic Freak-Out

GOOD MORNING!

(he shouted…)

1 When I wrote today’s early morning post about the Sherwin-Williams controversy, with a “hit the ball into the paint can” promotion going horrible wrong thanks to fake news and lying sports reporters, I wanted to use a famous old cartoon based on a sign that hung in the outfield in old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play. I couldn’t find it online, perhaps because it was 4 am. I just did, however…

2.  For some time, now, as the Left has commenced its nervous breakdown following Trump’s election, I have faced a daily dilemma. The ethics breaches, in civility, in journalism, in politics, have been so over-weighted to one side of the political spectrum that to cover issues based on importance and degree of ethics madness automatically makes Ethics Alarms seem partisan. I resent it, to be honest. The counterbalance is, of course, the President himself, but his brand of unethical conduct hasn’t changed since the campaign, though the Trump-haters never tire of freaking out over the same stuff. For example, after the infamous wrestling tweet about CNN, how nuts can you go when Trump posts a gag video showing him hitting Hillary in the head with a golf ball? Yes, it’s childish, yes, its unpresidential, yes, it shows lack of self-restraint, yes, it’s stupid. But I know and you know, and certainly his haters know, that Trump is childish, unpresidential, lacks  self-restraint, and is stupid. I’ve written too much about it already.

He is not, however, getting worse. Democrats, progressives and “the resistance” are getting worse, as they become more desperate in their derangement. I’m seeing things I didn’t believe possible, like serial child abuser Jimmy Kimmel being held up by the news media as the moral center of the Democratic Party. Jimmy Kimmel is nothing. He is a smug high school grad who has never done anything but perform, often disgustingly, as when he was host of the too-vulgar-to-be-believed “Man Show” on Comedy Central.

He’s never run a business; he’s never studied public policy. He’s a comedian whose signature act is egging on parents to make their kids cry and take videos of them. Ah, but he’ll give Hillary Clinton a forum to deliver her shadow UN speech, and pimp for Obamacare, so that makes him a policy expert. Incredible. Incredible, the depths to which progressives have fallen.

An immature, inexperienced, impulsive President, rather than being opposed, as he should be, by a professional, honest, respectable and responsible opposition party, has instead mutated the liberal establishment into as revolting a presence as he is. This is catastrophic for our politics, our culture, and our society, and that’s why Ethics Alarms devotes so much space to it.

3. Ann Althouse has the sharpest hypocrisy detector around, and she nailed horror novelist Stephen King (I like his novels, some of his movies, and he is a big Red Sox fan) for sending this anti-Trump tweet:’

Trump thinks hitting a woman with a golf ball and knocking her down is funny. Myself, I think it indicates a severely fucked-up mind.

She writes in part, Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

The Kid Mowing The White House Lawn

Sure it’s a political stunt, but it’s a nice stunt. In the long tradition of Presidents responding to letters and news stories involving children, this is one of the better ones. It is certainly better than the last example, President Obama making a hero out of “Clock Boy,” a kid who was seemingly being used as a propaganda tool by his Muslim activist father.

Frank Giaccio, of Falls Church, Virginia., had written to Trump earlier this year, saying it would be his “honor” to “mow the White House lawn some weekend for you.”  In the letter that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read the letter at a press briefing last month, Giaccio wrote that he would cut the grass “at no charge.”

Any President with two brain cells to rub together would take up an offer like that and have photographers ready when the kid came to work. Sure enough, a throng was on hand as Frank was seen mowing in the Rose Garden after the White House invited him to spend the morning alongside the groundskeeper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Diligent to a fault, he initially wouldn’t even stop mowing when the President spoke to him. Finally, he paused long enough to shake President trump’s hand.

Lessons? The President was humanized: he didn’t try to eat him.  The episode shows that America’s youth are still industrious and ready to work. It shows that patriotism lives. It shows that the rising generation is full of normal kids that love America, at least until they have been indoctrinated otherwise by high school and college teachers, and popular culture. Who could possibly object to this heart-warming scene? Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Social Media, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/17: More Factchecker Spin, More Hillary (Unfortunately), And A Thank-You [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

1 One comment thread over the last few days encompassed media fact-checkers and the consistent position here that they are intrinsically biased and untrustworthy. Law prof/blogger Jonathan Turley was so incensed (his term was “floored”) over one of the better factcheckers (Wapo’s Glenn Kessler) spinning for James Comey and against Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that he wrote a column for The Hill exposing it. (Hey! That’s MY job!) He writes on his blog about what prompted the column:

I have discussed previously how there has been a palpable bias in reporting on the Trump Administration. It is often that case that some journalists are not simply satisfied with disagreeing with the Administration. They sometimes take judgment calls or opinions and declare the Trump side to be simply factually incorrect. This relieves the need for readers to address the opposing view of controversies like the alleged misconduct of former FBI director James Comey. Those views are simply dismissed as untrue. This is a prime example.

The professor is right. It’s embarrassing. Read Turley’s whole piece, clearly prompted because Kessler refers to Turley’s repeated indictments of Comey (while saying that he does not believe Comey should actually be indicted). One respect in which the ever-polite and professorial Turley differs sharply from Ethics Alarms: he says that he has ” written for the Washington Post and [has] great respect for the publication. Indeed, I have objected to the attacks by President Donald Trump on the Post and the New York Times which remain two of our premiere journalistic organizations.”

Hmmm.

1) Turley obviously wants to keep writing for the Post, I guess, and 2) premiere members of a group that has become unprofessional and untrustworthy are still unprofessional and untrustworthy. Be that as it may, Turley concludes,

The Post concludes that the memos were, despite Comey’s denial, FBI material and that he violated FBI rules in removing and releasing such information. It also accepts that employees under Comey as director could well have been fired for such violations. It also agrees that the memos might have been either classified or privileged, even though there has been no final determination. Regardless, the Post awarded two Pinocchios for Sanders stating that Comey’s actions were “improper and likely could have been illegal.”

I have to give the Post two “Blue Fairies.” (I do not want to steal the Post’s Pinocchio signature motif so the Blue Fairy in the Disney story will do). After all, it was the Blue Fairy who said, “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as clear as the nose on your face.”

2. There are two items about Hillary Clinton in the Warm-Up today, because she is simultaneously a human ethics train wreck of a failed Presidential candidate, but also needs as little publicity for being so as possible. Continue reading

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The Lesson Of The Harvard-Chelsea Manning Fiasco

I often point out to my ethics classes that when the ethics alarms don’t sound, one can make decisions that result in ethics zugswang, which is the hopeless bind where there are no ethical solutions, only unethical ones. Then the only practical objective left is damage control: determine which course  is the least unethical. An ethical result is no longer possible. It was precluded forever by the original ethics failure.

I can’t think of a better example of this process than the Kennedy School’s botched appointment of Chelsea Manning as a ” visiting fellow.” It was an incompetent, foolish, reckless decision that a half-wit should have known would cause an ugly and unnecessary controversy. What was the school thinking?

I can only speculate. Either the school was looking for “buzz’—it got that all right— , or was trying particularly odious progressive virtue-signaling to the anti-war crowd that still hangs out around Harvard Square clutching their love beads, or most indefensible of all, was giving a gratuitous nod to the current transgender fad. Whichever it was of these, it should have been obvious that the choice was a terrible idea, and it says a lot about the school’s leadership and procedures that nobody in a position of influence shouted, “Wait, are you kidding? Chelsea Manning?  She’s a convict and a felon who leaked secret information to enemies of the United States!” Manning, as I noted in the Morning Warm-Up covering the story, isn’t a scholar, a deep thinker, or a stable or a trustworthy individual. Selecting her was bound to upset other more qualified teachers at the school as well as any American not partial to traitors, and it did. It also devalued every previous fellow at the Kennedy School, by demonstrating that being a Kennedy School fellow wasn’t a credential signifying special talent or admirable qualities. Not if Chelsea Manning qualified, it wasn’t.

The fury over the appointment erupted so vigorously in public, and, I suspect, even more vigorously behind the ivy-covered doors in Cambridge (my mother spent most of her working life at the University, and ended it as Asst. Dean of Housing: the Marshalls know how Harvard works), that the reversal wasn’t as big a surprise to me as it seems to be to some. Nonetheless, the criticism levied by many has justification. Wrote Jonathan Turley, for example,

“The only thing worse than Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government appointing Chelsea Manning as fellow was the school’s withdraw of the fellowship…My concerns are not really focused on Manning but the danger of universities tailoring its academic programs to public opinion. I have written extensively about the hostile environment for conservative speakers on campus. Invitations have been withdrawn due to opposition groups and protests. This case is even more concerning because it was a formal invitation to join the program as a fellow. The invitation and then the withdrawal leave total confusion as to the purpose and academic content of these fellowship positions. Harvard appears to have carefully avoided any principled ground in both the appointment and the withdrawal.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, War and the Military

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/1/17: Richard Simmons, Stilettos, A Sarcastic Cop, And The Post Sides With Palin

GOOD MORNING SEPTEMBER!

1.Good riddance to August, which had the worst fall-off in traffic here relative to the previous year of any month in Ethics Alarms history. I only have theories, the main one being that last August’s surge was an anomaly fueled by the Presidential campaign and the fact that Ethics Alarms was analyzing the ethics deficits of Hillary, Trump, the news media and both parties in roughly equal measure, since they were misbehaving in roughly equal measure.  Since “the resistance” and their allies in the news media, academia and elsewhere decided to reject democratic institutions like elections and the office of the Presidency in their revulsion, and mount a dangerous perpetual assault on the President with the objective of  undermining his leadership and having him removed extra-Constitutionally, the left-leaning end of the blog-reading pubic has become rigid and unyielding, and unable to tolerate even considering any position but their own. I’m seeing it on Facebook, every day. Their position is indefensible on the facts, so they find any critical analysis of their conduct and attitudes unpleasant. Then again, it could be because Google is burying my posts for being insufficiently politically correct, or because I suck.

2. Here’s a perfect example of the kind of ethics issue that only deserves Warm-Up status: Melania’s shoes as she boarded Air Force One on the way to  Houston.

(She was in sneakers when she landed, and was mocked for that, too.)

The New York Times and other Trump-Hate news sources actually thought this fashion choice by the ex-model was worthy of criticism. In Melania Trump, Off to Texas, Finds Herself on Thin Heels , Vanessa Friedman spend hundreds of words dissecting how the stilettos were “a symbol for what many see as the disconnect between the Trump administration and reality.” Apparently the First Lady broke the “No high heels when leaving a disaster” rule in the First Family Ethics Manual. Letter writer Dennis Donalson correctly chided the Times, writing in part,

The fact that she wore high heels when boarding a plane, regardless of her destination, is not newsworthy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and shoes are just shoes, not “the go-to stand-in for more nuanced, complicated emotions and issues.” Give Melania, and us all, a break.

Dennis notwithstanding, I’ve decided stories like this are wonderful: they are smoking gun evidence for anyone who isn’t similarly deranged that the news media is so consumed with anti-Trump mania that it is literally unable to determine what is or isn’t fair, proportionate and reasonable coverage. If the Times thinks Melania’s shoes are such a big deal, no wonder it goes nuts over what the President says to the Boy Scouts…and no wonder it is no longer reasonable to accord such a paper any credibility or respect at all. Continue reading

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