Tag Archives: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I’m Sorry To Have To Do Again This So Soon, But I Promised…Unethical Quote Of The Week: NYT Book Reviewer Jennifer Senior

I’m going to kill this fake history if it’s the last thing I do…

“But one thing we know for certain: History conspired against Clinton. No non-incumbent Democrat has succeeded a two-term Democratic president since 1836, and 2016 was a year when voters were pining for change.”

—-New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior, spinning for Hillary in her review of “What Happened”

I promised. I promised myself and Ethics Alarms readers that every time Presidential historian Doug Brnkley’s false election night statement that voters seldom elect the same party into the White house 12 years running is quoted as an explanation for Hillary Clinton’s loss, I would point out that this is a lie, and an especially awful one when issued on national TV by a supposedly-credible historian

Based on today’s New York Times review of Hillary Clinton’s excuse-and-blame fest in the wake of her defeat last November, I, and the truth, are making a little joint headway. Reviewer Jennifer Senior has refined Brinkley’s false history and now has a technically accurate but equally misleading version.

Yes, it is true: No non-incumbent Democrat has succeeded a two-term Democratic president since 1836. There is a threshold problem with even this reduction: why does the “rule” only apply to Democrats? Apparently Democrats can use the excuse that voters never vote in non-incumbents of the same party after 8 years, but Republicans can’t. Sorry, John McCain! Tough luck, Richard Nixon!

Democrats are so comfortable with the concept of double-standards when it benefits them. It’s scary.

The larger problem with this factoid is that it is deceitful. Using 1836 sounds impressive: Wow, this hasn’t happened for almost 200 years! No wonder Hillary lost! It’s not so impressive when one points out, as Senior doesn’t have the integrity to do, that there have been only three elections before 2016 when a non-incumbent Democrat had a chance to succeed a two-term Democratic President. Three. 3. III. I can flip heads with a coin three times in a row (or tails) any time I want to, in less than five minutes. The fact that in just three elections cheery-picked for certain similarities (though they were anything but similar) the same party lost proves, or even indicates, nothing. Suggesting it does is either ignorant or dishonest. (In Senior’s case, I vote dishonest, but I could be wrong.) Continue reading

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Which Presidents Would Have Tweeted Trump-Style If They Had A Twitter Account?

The tweet above from the President as he doubled down on his unusually stupid attack tweets against Joe and Mika got me thinking. He’s not entirely wrong. Trump is the first President to use social media personally and for candid statements and observations, bypassing the news media, and almost all of the previous Presidents had no choice in the matter. Fourth of July weekend always gets me thinking about the Founders, and the Founders get me musing about the Presidents, and I found myself playing this mind game: Which of our Presidents, had they has access to Twitter, would have used it in a Trumpian manner?

I should clarify some issues at the outset. None of the Presidents would have used Twitter in a stupid, juvenile and boorish manner like President Trump, because none of them were that stupid, juvenile and boorish. (On the other hand, none of their critics, being comparatively responsible and sane, would have argued that stupid, juvenile and boorish tweets were justification to remove the previous 44, as Keith Olbermann thinks.) By using Twitter in a Trumpian manner, I mean using it…

..Personally…

…for the purpose of by-passing the news media and White House spokespersons…

…in order to make declarations of intent, emotions or satisfaction, or

…to attack, accuse, denigrate, compliment, rebut, defend, joke, troll, or otherwise

…communicate directly with the public.in an unfiltered manner.

One other caveat: Trump would definitely be establishing new Presidential norms were his tweets less obnoxious and embarrassing. By the time his term(s) are over, he mat have given Presidential tweeting such a bad reputation that no future POTUS will dare use Twitter for fear of being compared to the Mad Tweeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

All right, on to the inquiry!

Which of our previous Presidents would have used twitter in one or more of the ways Trump uses it. based on what we know of their character and leadership styles?

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The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016, Part 1

bad-2016

Welcome, if that’s the word, to the 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards.

Last year, in a burst of self-pity as I began this annual task, I wrote,

“It is depressing and discouraging: 2015 was much worse than 2014, which was considerably worse than 2013. What am I doing here? What is the point of spending all of this uncompensated time—it is more profitable bagging groceries!—trying to nurture a more ethical culture and a more ethically competent public when all evidence points to utter futility as the result? Well, that way madness lies, I guess. I’m just going to grit my teeth and do my duty. Last year I began by saying that 2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. There were far more of them in 2015, and they were more serious and damaging. That should give you sufficient warning of the horrors to come…”

Then came 20i6.

To paraphrase  Margo Channing, “Fasten your seatbelts: It’s going to a bumpy post…”

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

train-wreck-air

The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck

I thought last year was the Year of the Train Wreck. Wrong. In 2016, we had the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, the Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, the Freddie Gray Ethics Train Wreck, the old stand-by Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, the still active Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, and the Ethics Train Wrecks of both Presidential candidates campaigns. Hillary’s e-mails and their related lies in the long trail of cars called the Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, was a clear winner though.

Passengers included President Obama, Bernie Sanders, Anthony Weiner, the F.B.I., Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton, James Comey and more. And, of course, it played a significant and perhaps decisive role in bringing us President Trump.

Runner-Up: 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck. It had less than a month to get up steam, but it caused lots of ethics carnage, and is still going strong.

Fraud of the Year

The Trump Foundation, which revealed itself to be a near total sham. RUNNER-UP: Fake lawyer Kimberly Kitchen, who worked as an estate planning lawyer at BMZ Law in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and served as president of the county bar, though she never went to law school, and never took the bar exam, but forged documents to fool everyone that she had.

Most Unethical Act By A Major Church

The Catholic Church, which, incredibly, restored a convicted rapist to the priesthood. Father Joseph Jeyapaul,  a Catholic priest from India, while serving in the Crookston, Minnesota diocese from 2004 to 2005 raped at least two adolescent girls.  After being charged with the crimes, including rape and forcing at least one of his victims to perform fellatio on him, Father Joseph  escaped to India, where an Interpol warrant got him extradited back to Minnesota.  There he confessed, and as part of a plea bargain, received an outrageously light sentence of a year and a day for pleading guilty to one count of molestation. Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served his time in Minnesota. The U.S. deported him back to India, while the Minnesota diocese had to pay millions in a civil lawsuit, during which we learned that the rapist priest had told one of his victims  in the confessional that she was at fault, and had made Jeyapaul “impure” by letting him abuse her. In February, the Vatican lifted Jeyapaul‘s suspension and restored him to the priesthood. It then assigned him to a new parish in India, where he is now the diocesan head of its commission for education. 

Tell me again why that fake news story that the Pope endorsed Trump was supposed to help The Donald.

Incompetent Elected Official of the Year

kkane

Kathleen G. Kane (D), Pennsylvania’s ex-Attorney General.  In October, a judge sentenced her to 10 to 23 months in prison for her conviction on charges of perjury and abuse of her office. You can’t be more incompetent, I’d say, than an elected attorney general who can’t stay out of jail herself. I regret not writing about the Kane saga last year, but her ethical void was fairly apparent back in 2013, the only time I did write about her, after she leaked grand jury testimony, which is illegal. I wrote at the time (I must have been in a bad mood)…

“Leaking grand jury testimony is both illegal and spectacularly unethical for a lawyer, yet Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, appears to have done it for the slimiest of reasons, and is offering the most cynical of defenses in the most offensive of ways. (Incidentally, I don’t understand how this could happen. After all, Kane is a woman, the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected to the post, and since having a vagina alone is supposed to imbue a candidate with trustworthiness, surpassing competence and virtue, this makes no sense at all.)”

Unethical Elected Official of the Year

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Why It’s Unethical For Journalists To “Fact Check” Donald Trump—Especially CNN Journalists

Donald Trump

In Donald Trump’s meaningless statement yesterday, which was covered by the news media as if it was the revelation of the millennium, he  officially conceded that Barack Obama is a natural born U.S. citizen. He also used the silly media attention to drag out his announcement into a long campaign infomercial for which he didn’t have to pay a cent. Nice, and it serves the broadcast media right for giving any significance to a five-year-long trolling exercise.

Trump used the phony controversy over President Obama’s birth certificate to get publicity five years ago, because he is shameless. That’s all. Did he really think Obama was born in Kenya? Oh, who knows? He is an idiot, after all. Then again, he is a skilled professional troll. Whether he believed it or not, Trump used the issue to get attention then, and now has used his 180 degree reversal to get attention now. Obviously nothing has changed that would justify this flip-flop if he believed what he insisted was true for five years. A more transparently cynical and insincere retraction I cannot conceive. Who cares what Trump says he believes at any point, about anything?

But I digress. What really seemed to enrage the journalists who have embraced Rationalizations #28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times,” and #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now” to anoint themselves as full-time volunteer members of the Hillary for President campaign, was that Trump said this:

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Quoth the thoroughly partisan news media,

“ARRGH!!!!:

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Politico

experience

“This is the fundamental tension of being Clinton’s chief speechwriter: How do you write effectively for a policy-driven candidate who is allergic to campaign-speak? …But it’s also deeper than just a speechwriting problem: It’s about how the most experienced person to ever run for the White House continues to struggle with one of the most basic parts of the job: committing to a message that helps establish a general sense of affection from the electorate.

—-Annie Karnie in Politico, in a post called “Has Hillary finally found her voice?”

The news media has become so biased, so incompetent, so arrogant and so dishonest that I could fill this blog every day with only posts aimed at exposing the horrific and damaging “profession” of journalism. The increasing boldness with which reporters and editors aim to manipulate public opinion and government policy by intentional disinformation is staggering. In focusing on Politico’s Big Lie about Hillary’s credentials, I chose not to write about several others, such as, for example, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jessie Balmert, who wrote that the number of murders in the U.S. last year was 15 times higher than it actually was. Another candidate was liberal website ThinkProgress, which headlined a story “GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests.” (It proposes nothing of the sort, but ThinkProgress’s false headline operates as both clickbait and confirmation bias fodder for its readers.)

I chose Politico’s bland statement as fact what is not a fact, but rather easily disprovable pro-Hillary propaganda, because this technique is so insidious. The  biased news media repeats falsity over and over again until it is accepted as truth. No, Trump did not say that “Mexican immigrants were rapists.” No, equally qualified women do not get only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Those two examples however, have some arguments, however unfair and warped, to justify them. By no possible interpretation can it be claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the most experienced person to ever run for the White House.”  It is an unequivocal falsehood, perpetuated by the news media out of incompetence and ignorance, or in order to intentionally mislead the public. Continue reading

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Encore! Presidents Day Ethics: The Presidents of the United States on Ethics and Leadership

It’s President’s Day, and I see that it has been five years since the most popular Ethics Alarms President’s Day post was published. That one, from 2011, reminds us of the ethics wisdom and leadership acumen of the remarkable men who have served their country in the most challenging, difficult, and ethically complicated of all jobs, the U.S. Presidency.

In the middle of a campaign season littered with some disturbingly unethical candidates, it seems especially appropriate to re-post that entry now….with some updates. In 2011, I left out three Presidents, including the current one. Now all are represented, most of them well.

So…

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States of America:

 

George Washington: “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

John Adams: “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” 

Thomas Jefferson: “On great occasions every good officer must be ready to risk himself in going beyond the strict line of law, when the public preservation requires it; his motives will be a justification…”

James Madison: “No government any more than any individual will long be respected without being truly respectable.”

James Monroe: “The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”

John Quincy Adams: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority.”   (Attributed)

Martin Van Buren: “No evil can result from its inhibition more pernicious than its toleration.”

William Henry Harrison: “There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.” Continue reading

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Unethical Meme Of The Week: Democratic Underground

Meme

I know I could batter internet memes all day, but this one, by the Democratic Underground, particularly annoys me, as has the “chicken hawk” canard that knee-jerk anti-war activists have been wielding for decades.

To begin with, it’s an ad hominem argument, and thus unethical on its face. The question is whether a military option is the best and most responsible solution to an international problem, not who is asserting that it is. It is also an incompetent argument, as in stupid. There  is nothing about typical military experience that conveys expertise in foreign affairs or international politics. Military service, as in training, marching, being deployed and shooting a gun, and military action, as a strategic tool of diplomacy and international politics, are two different things. Lincoln was a superb Commander in Chief, but he didn’t gain that ability from his brief combat experience fighting Black Hawk Indians.

In fact, what is  the statement above supposed to imply? No Commander in Chief has had to risk personal combat if he chose war. Because there has been no draft since the the Nineties, the only way a political leader would ever have military experience would be if he chose a military career, which would mean that the meme suggests that a military career is a prerequisite for national leadership. But Democrats don’t believe that; nobody believes that. In fact, Democrats are wary and suspicious of the military, which they believe, with some justification,  is biased toward military involvement. They don’t even especially respect military service: look at how James Webb was treated in his brief presidential run. Continue reading

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