Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]

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Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Unethical Quote Of The Week, By Senator Joe Manshin (D-WV)

Manshin

“But due process is what’s killing us now.”

—- Democratic Senator Joe Manshin, of West Virginia, on MSNBC bemoaning the fact that the government can’t take away your rights based on “suspicion.”

Naturally, nobody on the network immediately responded, “WHAT???” I wonder if there are any broadcast journalists who would have challenged that crypto-fascist statement by a U.S. Senator. Think about that for a minute.

Just so you are clear that the quote isn’t out of context, here is what Manshin said (you can also watch the video here)

“The problem we have and really the firewall that we have right now is due process. It’s all due process. So we can all say, yeah, we want the same thing but how do we get there?” If a person is on the terrorist watch list like the gentleman, the shooter in Orlando, he was twice by the FBI, we were briefed yesterday about what happened, but that man was brought in twice. They did everything they could. The FBI did everything they were supposed to do, but there was no way for them to keep him on the nix list or keep him off the gun buy list. There was no way to do that. So can’t we say that if a person’s under suspicion,  there should be a five-year period of time of time that we have to see if good behavior, if this person continues the same traits, maybe we can come to that type of an agreement? But due process is what’s killing us now.”

Observations: Continue reading

Ethics (and Legal) Dunces: Hillary Clinton And Everyone Else Who Is Suggesting That The Government Should Be Able To Keep Someone From Buying A Gun By Placing Them On A “No-Fly List””

This post would be barely worth writing, except that I have just listened to several cable channels state with great urgency that it is a “controversy.”

It’s no controversy. The government cannot take away a citizen’s rights without due process. Currently, as explained in an ACLU lawsuit, the No-Fly List procedure itself appears to lack due process, so linking it to Second Amendment rights would be similarly unconstitutional:

“There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns, and the No Fly List could serve as one tool for it, but only with major reform…. the standards for inclusion on the No Fly List are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted without a fair process to correct government error. Our lawsuit seeks a meaningful opportunity for our clients to challenge their placement on the No Fly List because it is so error-prone and the consequences for their lives have been devastating.  Over the years since we filed our suit — and in response to it — the government has made some reforms, but they are not enough.”

Continue reading

Is It Wrong To Laugh At This Story?

"Now, you're sure about this, right?"

“Now, you’re sure about this, right?”

Jonathan Turley found this strange tale, and the professor managed to find a jurisprudence issue in it. Not me: I want to know if finding it hilarious demonstrates unseemly cruelty.

In Zimbabwe, prophet Shamiso Kanyama instructed his followers to bury him alive as part of a ritual to cleanse their house of evil spirits. They did as he asked, and when they dug him up later he was dead.

The family that buried him is charged with murder. “Now the courts have a case where the victim demanded on religious grounds to be buried alive,” writes Turley. “The followers clearly believed that he could survive out of their own religious zeal. What should be the punishment in such a case?”

Oh, I don’t know: a conviction for murder, but a lighter than usual sentence. I don’t really care: this is Darwinism as work. My question is whether it is proof of a lack of empathy that the story reminds me of Monty Python, and makes me laugh.

Campus “Safe Spaces”= Free Speech Suppression And Intimidation: The Next Step

edinburghBad ideas take root when they are not immediately called what they are—bad—, then mocked, eviscerated, and destroyed with reason, logic and common sense. That is why fools should never be suffered gladly, and why their foolish inspirations should be dashed before they are allowed to draw a breath. Many factors, such as misplaced politeness, mistaking open-mindedness for lack of critical thought, laziness and cowardice  allow these bad ideas to spread like weeds.

Who was it that shrugged when it was first suggested that the U.S. should ignore its own immigration laws? Who was it who failed to point and laugh when someone suggested that rape accusations in colleges should be decided without due process? Who neglected to say, “Whaat?” when a legislator suggested that workers be exempted from doing the duties required of their jobs when their religions disapproved of them? Good ideas can be defended against the attacks of those without imagination or daring. Bad ideas have to slip by, undetected and unrebutted, until they get out of control.

Some, indeed many, allowed the ridiculous “safe spaces” theory to live when it should have been strangled in its crib. Now it is strangling education and open discourse on campuses all over the nation. I’m proud to say that Ethics Alarms did its part deftly when the related argument was raised on various blogs, including this one, that places of debate should be “safe,” in the sense that no commenter risk a harsh rebuttal or an insulting retort no matter what that commenter wrote. We lost a couple of hardy and substantive participants over the issue.

The “safe places” theory is especially sinister, as it also creates places safe for more bad ideas to flourish and grow beyond the stage where they can be stamped out with ease. Of course, not every idea, even good ones, are welcome to all. “Safe spaces” means guaranteed safety from  ideas that are unwelcome to the specific group constructing its safe zone, ideas like, say, “TRUMP 2016.”  It is the culmination of the position that people should be guaranteed the right not to be confronted with opposing views. Now the University of Edinburgh, “influencing the world since 1583,” is showing us what happens when the weeds of “safe spaces” are allowed to spread. Continue reading

The Naked Mayor Principle?

Chip Johnson

Chip  Johnson, the  married mayor of Hernando, Mississippi, sent a photograph of himself naked in the shower to his mistress, who then widely circulated it on the internet after the mayor discarded her like an old sock, or something.  (This is the essentially same plot the the British series “Happy Valley” employed last season, except that ex-lover so exposed was a police detective, not a mayor.)

Chip defended himself by explaining that he had sent the  shower selfie last year to an adult woman who was fully consenting in the relationship; in other words, this wasn’t a Weiner situation. Now he’s playing the victim, whining that it was “hurtful” to have his trust violated while he was violating his wife’s trust as well as the trust of his constituency, which trusted him not to make an ass of himself and embarrass them by emailing his naughty bits to his mistress.  Johnson told the local paper that he was seeking legal advice. Here’s some ethics advice:

Resign. Mayors should, at very least, be reasonably trusted not to have their Johnsons get displayed far and wide. There is no good reason for any mayor’s Johnson to be so displayed. If a mayor’s Johnson, like Mayor Johnson’s Johnson, is so displayed, it is proof positive that said mayor is an irresponsible fool with terrible judgment. Nobody who is an irresponsible fool with terrible judgment should be a mayor. Sure, the ex-mistress’s conduct was cruel and vindictive, but she’s not the mayor.

It’s really quite simple.

He’s toast, and deserves to be.

Let’s call it “The Naked Mayor Principle.”

[ You can review the related Naked Teacher Principle here...]

Trump Goes Rogue, And If The Republican Party Has Any Integrity, Here’s What It Should Do…

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Based on his unprofessional outbursts during the last Republican debate, Donald Trump has blown a fuse, and is edging ever closer to that inevitable moment when he loses the crucial brain synapse that leaves him drooling and proclaiming himself Prince of the Pangolins, or something similar. He has continued his meltdown with an anti-Ted Cruz rant released on his website as a press release. He laughably accuses Ted Cruz of being unstable, which is like Charles Manson calling Caligula nuts. He recites a number of what he calls Cruz’s lies, but they are just Cruz’s opinions. He is of the general opinion that Trump is lying about being a conservative. That seems fair and reasonable to me. What Cruz is really doing is pushing Trump’s buttons. The Donald can dish it out, but Cruz, like Megyn Kelly,  is proving that he can’t take it. Trump is whining, threatening, bluffing and blustering, and generally acting like the pampered, narcissist he has always been. Finally, poor, abused Donald writes this:

“One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him relative to the fact that he was born in Canada and therefore cannot be President. If he doesn’t take down his false ads and retract his lies, I will do so immediately. Additionally, the RNC should intervene and if they don’t they are in default of their pledge to me.”

Observe: Continue reading