Monday Ethics Lockdown, 9/28/2020: Wait, CNN Reporters Are Challenging Democrats Now?

I locked it down so securely that it took until Tuesday to open it…

1. Does the Democratic Party’s 2020 ticket constitute the most irresponsible nominations for President and Vice-President in U.S. history? I think a strong case can be made that it is. The patriotic duty of a political party is to give the American people the best possible choices of competent and trustworthy leaders to cast their votes for. In 2020, the nominee for President is mentally declining into incompetence, and the nominee for Vice-President appears to have no genuine objectives other than her own voracious ambition, and will say anything to achieve that. Recent evidence:

  • It was missed at the time, and the 77-year-old Biden had more marbles left then, but during a town hall event last October before the South Carolina Democratic primary, video shows Biden claiming, “I got started out of a HBCU, Delaware State,” he told pupils at Wilson High School in Florence, founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Bureau for black children seeking an education. Delaware State is a traditional black college. Yesterday, Delaware State University confirmed  that Joe Biden was never a student there.

Did Joe really misremember where he went to college? Does he think he’s black? Was he lying? Who knows?

  • Kamala Harris appeared at the virtual NAACP convention last week, and, CNN commentator Angela Rye asked Harris who was the best rapper alive. “Tupac!” she answered.

Tupac Shakur has been dead since 1996. Harris, as is her habit, tried to giggle the gaffe away, and then was given another chance. “There’s so many, you know?” she huminahumina-ed. “There’s some I would not mention right now because they should stay in their lane.”

Sure. You know, I have never listened to a rap station or to a single rap song all the way through,  and I can name at least six. Heck, just add almost any adjective to “Ice” and you’ll probably name one by accident. And I’m not even sort-of black.

It’s not that Harris is faking it all the time, it’s that she’s not smart enough to do a convincing job faking it.

2. Wait, another CNN reporter refuses to let a Democrat get away with spouting nonsense? Continue reading

From The “The Ends Justifies The Means” Files, Election 2016 Tab: Why Does Hillary Clinton Think That It Is Responsible, Respectful And Fair To Intentionally Deceive Voters With Schemes Like This?

And why does the mainstream news media think it is ethical to let her get away with it?

A YouTuber named Spanglevision decided to do the job that the mainstream news media has resolved to forgo, checking up on a suspicious Hillary Clinton campaign moment that seemed to good to be true. 

At a Hillary Clinton town hall yesterday in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a 15 year old girl was supposedly chosen at random to ask a question of her own devising. She delivered a carefully worded query that she read from a script:

“Hi Madam Secretary.  I’m Brennan and I’m 15 years old.  At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age.  I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.  As the first female president how would you undo some of that damage and help girls understand that they’re so much more than just what they look like?”

Clinton responded,

“I’m so proud of you for asking that question. You are right — my opponent has just taken this concern to a new level of difficulty and meanness.  And, it’s shocking when women are called names and judged solely on the basis of physical attributes.* My opponent insulted Miss Universe. I mean, how do you get more acclaimed than that?  But, it wasn’t good enough. So we can’t take any of this seriously any more. We need to laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. And we need to stand up to it.”

Investigation yielded the fact that  that the “random” participant was child actress Brennan Leach Her father is Pennsylvania democratic State Senator Daylin Leach, a Hillary Clinton ally. Brennan has performed in her father’s campaign ads, and also in a commercial release: she has an entry in the Internet movie data base.  Thus it was a lie to present the girl as a randomly chosen questioner, and it was a lie to create the illusion that Clinton was answering a spontaneous question.

Then the news media took the falsely presented episode and spread the lie far and wide as truth.

As Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge illustrates, the fakery was presented as authentic by the New York Times….

https://static01.nyt.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000004690624

 

CNN, which gave us the video at the top of this post, and many others, including  The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan. Continue reading

Unethical Technology On The Way: Imagine What Breitbart Will Be Able To Do With THIS

The video above shows a still-in-development system called Face2Face (research paper here) created by researchers at Stanford, the Max Planck Institute and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. It would allow you to take YouTube video of anyone speaking, and to pair it with a standard webcam  video of someone else emoting while saying something entirely different. Thehe Face2Face system will synthesize a new video showing the originals speaker making the second speaker’s facial movements, including the interior of the mouth, so it looks like the original speaker is saying what the second speaker was.

Tech Crunch reports that the system isn’t quite ready for market yet. Gee, I can hardly wait. This “advance” has the potential of making video just as unreliable and untrustworthy as still photography is now. Web hoaxers, Ted Cruz’s marketing team, unscrupulous political websites like Breitbart and others will have a field day once Face2Face is perfected.

The justification for creating such technology is the same as the rationalizations behind cloning velociraptors in “Jurassic Park”: because we can, and because we can make money with it. Can any good come from Face2Face? It’s late and I’m not at my best, but it seems to me that the end results of having another tool for liars just means more lies, more cynicism, more misinformed people, and less trust.

Isn’t it irresponsible and inherently unethical to invent something like this?

On The Matter Of Fake Buglers: Beyoncé Revisited

I don’t know how I missed the fact that the armed services increasingly use fake buglers at military funerals, but I just learned about it the hard way.

Our neighbor, a navy veteran who died unexpectedly leaving his wife and small daughter, received a military burial in Quantico, Virginia. The uniformed bugler raised his instrument to his lips (out of my sight, but I saw him with his bugle on the way to the site), and the mournful sound of TAPS began, only to end abruptly halfway through the melody. There was an awful, awkward silence as the mourners wondered what happened and if the tune would be completed, and then the sailor put away his bugle into a case, and walked over to fold the flag on the coffin.

Because of budget cuts (which, of course, could have been applied elsewhere, for this is a choice) and a shortage of buglers, most military funerals employ non-musicians who hold a fake bugle with a chip and a speaker installed to give the illusion that TAPS is being performed.

In other words, it is a subterfuge and a lie.

I discussed what was wrong with such fake live performances in 2009, and again in 2013, when I beat this topic to death, even going on Bill O’Reilly’s show to talk about Beyoncé lip-synching at the Inauguration as the newscasters lied about it being a live performance. The key quote from both posts is this..,

“The performance was part of the swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama, and that meant that it could not, should not, must not be phony, faked, or a lie.”

Whether you think that similar fakery is more or less excusable when the nation says good-bye and thanks to a deceased veteran is a matter of priorities. Both are unethical, both represent creeping corruption and a betrayal of values. This was a Navy service; here’s the relevant provision of the Navy Ethics Compass: Continue reading

Ethics Musings Sparked By The Passing Of Ken Beatrice, D.C. Sports Talk Legend

kbeatrice2

If you did not live in the D.C. area in the Eighties, you probably never heard of Ken Beatrice, who just died in a hospice at the age of 72. There was a time when Beatrice was the radio sports authority in pro football crazy Washington D.C., and star of the most popular and talked about call-in show of any kind on the local radio. He deserved his popularity, for Beatrice was smart, hard-working, knowledgeable, professional, and nice. His career, its rise and fall, was also a hard ethics lesson, for anyone paying attention, on why it is that good people do unethical things that hurt themselves more than anyone else.

Beatrice’s acclaim arose out of his astounding knowledge of football at all levels, from the pros to high school. I’ve never cared about football, but I listened to Ken’s show just because he was amazing. From his Washington Post obituary:

“His knowledge of pro football players, current and potential, was nonpareil. Call in to ask about the third-string quarterback at a second-tier college, and Mr. Beatrice could tell you the player’s height, weight and 40-yard dash time.He was so attentive to the game, a sportscaster once told The Washington Post, that he was able to recite a team’s depth chart off the top of his head, naming both the starters and the second- and third-stringers who would eventually replace them.”

This doesn’t even do Beatrice justice: you had to hear him. It was like a Las Vegas magic act. A caller would say, “I graduated from Madison High in Rexburg, Idaho, and I hear they have a running back on the football team that may have pro potential…I can’t think of his name..” Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: “The Walking Dead”

Fool me once, shame on you...

Fool me once, shame on you…

The producers and writers of  AMC’s “The Walking Dead” must be all puffed up with pride, squeezing three weeks of artificially-goosed ratings by faking the death of a major character and then bringing him back safe and sound tonight as blithely as they used to do with Pearl White in the old “Perils of Pauline” serials after the previous episode ended with a buzz-saw  inches from bisecting her, or with a speeding locamotive yards away with Pearl lashed to the tracks. (No, damn you, I’m not THAT old!)

Well, they can be proud without me. I don’t appreciated any show treating me like a fool, and that’s exactly what “The Walking Dead” did with this cheapest of cheap stunts. This is drama, not “Die Hard,” not “Days of Our Lives,” and not Gilbert and Sullivan. Silly resolutions of crises are expected in those and other genres, and an audience is forewarned and consents to the absurdities to come; it’s part of the fun. “The Walking Dead,” in contrast, has presented itself as an uncompromising, raw, nihilistic survivalist study of a hopeless and deadly world where death is lurking everywhere, and even heroes (who are barely heroes anyway) aren’t safe. It is the constant threat of a horrible death that give the show its legitimacy and its characters weight.

Take that away, and the the show is pointless gore, just a special effects exhibition with a repetitious plot attached. I know most people don’t demand integrity from their elected leaders or their entertainment, but I do. The producers and writers of “The Walking Dead” think lying is cute and profitable. I supposed its ovine fans will prove them right.

I say its unethical, and I say to hell with them.

Update: Actor Steven Yuen, who plays the now miraculously alive character, said after the show aired:

“I think it proves that this world still can take that story of the good guy winning sometimes. I really like the fact that it’s not this bent of always seeking out something miserable happening on television or something terrible and sulking on that and rather just really accepting the fact that sometimes good guys survive.”

Baloney. What this proves is that this world, which knows that good guys die all the time, can be gulled into caring about the demise of a fictional character as if that character is worth caring about, when it is is in fact just a tool of commerce and emotional manipulation by a creative force that has no interest in any artistic or philosphicaltruths, only a cynical commercial one.

 

So Caitlyn Jenner BOUGHT Her ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award From Disney: What Does It Mean, And Why Is Anyone Surprised?

Arthur Ashe was too good for you, Cait...

Arthur Ashe was too good for you, Cait…

I should have already given ESPN an Ethics Dunce for designating an “Espy,” an award given by the cable sports channel to justify having an awards show—to Caitlyn Jenner for the courageous sports achievement of being an aging reality show star who once won an Olympics event and decided that he was now a she.  Why I didn’t, I don’t recall. I think my reasoning was that since the awards are just a PR gimmick anyway, it wasn’t worth the post.  I wasn’t paying attention: I did not sufficiently focus on the fact that “Espy”she would receive was named after Arthur Ashe. I did already discuss  the ethical problems with turning Jenner into a trans icon, since her transition seemed to be in part a money-driven career move. Now, following Jenner’s tearful and touching acceptance of “the Arthur Ashe Courage Award” on TV, we learn this:

“Reports have emerged that Jenner’s team approached ESPN with the idea that she win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award just as details were being finalized for her 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC. ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney, and ABC aired Wednesday’s awards ceremony. “It was a brilliant move because the executives at ESPN loved the idea, and immediately began making sure it got done,” a source familiar with the negotiations told RadarOnline.The talks hit a stumbling block, and Jenner’s agents were reportedly prepared to pull out of the interview with Sawyer. “It was ironed out, and ABC owns one of the biggest stories of the year.” The build up to Jenner accepting the award will be featured in her upcoming reality show, “I am Cait”, generating a great deal of publicity for both ESPN and the awards.”

Wow! Who could have seen that coming—a reality show star, who has been part of the shameless and venal Kardashian family, cynically manipulating the media and gaining phony recognition on a nationally broadcast awards show…and, in the bargain, debasing the name of a real sports hero, the dignified, sportsmanlike, role model Arthur Ashe, an African American champion in the white man’s game of tennis who helped make Serena Williams’ prominence possible!

Yecchh. In fact, that’s a double yecchh at least.

Yecchh. Yecchh.

What does this mean? To begin with, it means that Jenner bought her award. I don’t want to read any Clintonian deceit about how this isn’t technically true….she bought it. There is no reason to believe ESPN would have given the award to Jenner had her agents not suggested it, and ESPN’s parent received value that translated directly into profits with the exclusive, high-rated ABC interview with Sawyer. Jenner might as well have slipped ABC a couple of million in a big valise  under the table. This was a bribe. This was an award bought and paid for.

What does that mean?
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“Drunk Girl In Public”: This Trend Will Ruin Trust, Spontenaity, Kindness and Fun, and There Is Absolutely Nothing We Can About It Except Complain

I guess it all began with Allen Funt.

If Allen knew what he would be starting, he would have opened a deli.

If Allen knew what he would be starting, he would have opened a deli.

Back in the Fifties, he came up with the idea of using a hidden camera to record the reactions of innocent bystanders “in the act of being themselves.” He staged situations, sometimes Twilight Zones set-ups like a door that opened for everyone but the target, and filmed the results, first for a guest segment on TV talk shows and finally on his own, long running hit, “Candid Camera.” Funt would never have dreamed of using actors and faking the reactions, because first, he didn’t need to; second, if he was caught, it would ruin him; and third, he was an honest professional. The idea, however, has thoroughly metastasized in all directions, to “practical joke shows,” reality shows, and such monstrosities as ABC’s “What Would You Do?” and James O’Keefe. Perversions were limited as long as the shows were restricted to television, but now YouTube makes everyone a potential producer, and among the thousands trying to create a viral video, there are many, perhaps most,  who are not decent, ethical professionals like Allen Funt, but just greedy jerks who will gladly cheat, lie to and humiliate others to gain fame and fortune. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Wisconsin State Journal

“Critics accused her of copying campaign materials after parts of her jobs plan and other proposals included segments that were identical to those other Democratic candidates.”

—-Wisconsin State Journal reporter Mary Spicuzza, in a story for the paper about how  Democratic Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke felts she was abused and “dragged through the mud” while running, unsuccessfully, against Gov. Scott Walker, arguably the most savaged state politician in any state.

finger-pointingAs I wrote about here, Burke DID copy campaign materials. The “critics accused” deceit is increasingly common in today’s journalism, as in “conservatives accused Democrats of using racially divisive tactics in Congressional races.” It’s despicable, and I salute Ann Althouse, a Wisconsin resident, for flagging this unintentionally hilarious example.

Spicuzza wrote “Critics accused” as if the accuracy of the accusation was still a matter of dispute, then stated in the same sentence that “parts of her jobs plans and other proposals” were identical to those of previous candidates. It’s not an accusation then, is it? It’s a fact that her opponents accurately and correctly pointed out, and as I pointed out, one that should have bothered her supporters as much it did “critics.”

This is how partisan and biased journalists warp public perceptions. Burke is claiming to have been “dragged though the mud,” implying unfair treatment, by revelations of accurate and damning facts, and the journalist is supporting that narrative by misleading reporting.

This particular device has been bothering me for a long time. Is it trivial? Sure, each individual example is trivial. Cumulatively, all the examples result in significantly warped and distorted public perceptions. I had to mention it at least once, and how sick to death I am of journalists who can’t just give us facts fairly without pushing their own candidates and agendas.

How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical? [The First In A Special Ethics Alarms Election Year Series]

Mary Burke

Mary Burke

With this post, Ethics Alarms launches a  special limited series, “How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical?” or HCPCVFCTU for short. My goal will be to have approximately equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans named by election day. It should not be hard. Please send your nominations and suggestions to me at jamproethics@verizon.net.

The first candidate in the series: Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

A substantial portion of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s published jobs plan for Wisconsin was lifted directly from the plans of three earlier Democratic candidates for governor in other states

Burke’s economic plan “Invest for Success” includes virtually word for word sections from the jobs plans of Ward Cammack, who ran for Tennessee governor in 2009, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (in 2008) and John Gregg who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana in 2012. Buzzfeed has links to all of these, as well as Burke’s plan that uses them all.

Burke is blaming a campaign consultant, now fired, named Eric Schnurer. Apparently he also worked on the other campaigns, and engaged in self-plagiarism. Nevertheless, this is a pathetic excuse, and doesn’t relieve the candidate of full responsibility for trying to foist a phony plan on constituents:

  • This is supposed to be her plan, not a consultant’s off-the-shelf retreads.
  • Obviously, if it is substantially based on what was proposed for other states in plans as much as six years old, the “plan” has little to do with Wisconsin’s particular needs in 2014.
  • The “plan” proves that Mary Burke gave no thought to an important part of what she is allegedly running to accomplish in Wisconsin, and just rubber stamped something that sounded good by campaign fudging standards.
  • Is this the kind of employee Burke hires? Fakers and cheats? Is this the sort of oversight she provides? None? What is she doing, planning on running for President? Is this how much the public can trust her to be serious, substantive, attentive and trustworthy? Not one bit? It would seem so.
  • Then, when she is caught at being lazy, careless, dishonest, superficial and deceptive, Burke’s response is to deny responsibility, and blame someone else because she put her name on a stolen, recycled, vague and superficial “plan.”

How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical?

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