Competence Check: Learn To Communicate, You Inarticulate Boobs.

I’ll make this quick.

Sullivan and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne, spoke with ABC News’ Ian Pannell yesterday at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport about the evacuations taking place there. As the Taliban is taking control of the country, Sullivan said that his Marines are managing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, saying, “I think whether you’re in a combat situation or a humanitarian operation, the human element is always there. But this event is an unprecedented event. I have my years of deploy[ment] into combat and to other crisis areas… I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Then the two Ethics Dunce Congressmen, Seth Moulton, a Bay State Democrat, and Republican Peter Meijer of Michigan, both Iraq War veterans as the news media keeps reminding us (as if that excuses them), made a secret, unapproved visit to the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Tuesday “to conduct oversight” on the evacuation. They also said it wasn’t grandstanding. Of course it was grandstanding. The Administration’s anger at the two as well as Speaker Pelosi’s criticism was 100% appropriate.

But I digress. Moulton, who tweeted his reactions, wrote at one point, “I visited Kabul airport to conduct oversight on the evacuation. Witnessing our young Marines and soldiers at the gates, navigating a confluence of humanity as raw and visceral as the world has ever seen, was indescribable.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“Indescribable.”

This is not sufficient or acceptable. It is incompetent and lazy communication of information that the generals and the congressmen have a duty to communicate. Those descriptions could mean anything, and they deliberately or negligently leave their meaning to the imaginations of listeners and readers, when they didn’t see a thing. If officials can’t do better than that explaining a situation to the public through the news media, then they shouldn’t be talking to the news media, and they shouldn’t be officials.

Meanwhile, adding to the incompetence, reporters in a position to do so must not take such useless generalities as answers.

“What did you see that you have never seen before, General?”

“Please describe what you mean by indescribable, Congressman!”

Or go back to grade school and learn to talk. I’m sick of this.

Ethics And Leadership Failure On Afghanistan, Part I: In And Out

I’m not a foreign policy expert. (Is anyone a foreign policy expert?) so Ethics Alarms will go light on what “should” have been done by the U.S. in Afghanistan. The one thing I am unalterably convinced of now, as I was in 2001, is that the U.S. had to take strong military action against the Taliban after it aided and abetted Osama bin Laden. No nation can just shrug off a fatal, ambush attack on its citizens with a finger wag and a stern, “Now don’t do that again, or you’ll be sorry!”

Obviously staying twenty years in the pseudo-nation was way, way too long, expensive and costly in American lives, but dreaded mission creep set in. My approach after 9/11—and I think that of several past Presidents, including Eisenhower and Truman—would have been to strike hard, make sure as many military and government officials as possible were among the dead, accept the civilian casualties as unavoidable, and make sure that a properly frightening death toll—ten times what we lost on 9/11, perhaps, 30,000?—made the necessary point: “Don’t mess with the United States of America.” Once that message was delivered, get out. Colin Powell’s too often quoted nostrum that if you broke a country you were obligated to fix it should not have applied. Afghanistan was already broken; it was and remains a chaotic mess of warlords and medieval thinking supported by the heroin trade. Nobody can “fix” it. However, the Taliban was bad, and worst of all it oppressed women, so all of a sudden our objective became an ethical one, not retaliation but reform.

Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month And Ethics Dunce: ACLU National Legal Director And Georgetown Law Prof. David Cole

foot-in-mouth-header

David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director and Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, tweeted in response to the SCOTUS ruling striking down California’s law making it mandatory for non-profits to disclose the names of their biggest donors,

Cole tweet

Gee, that’s funny! The ACLU filed an amicus brief supporting the majority’s decision in AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY FOUNDATION v. BONTA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA.

Continue reading

The Unethical Ingredients Of The West Point High School Valedictorian Fiasco, Part II: What’s Going On Here? [Corrected]

Valedictorian

Who are the ethics villains, heroes, fools and otherwise in the West Point High School graduation honors debacle?

Observations:

Number One, and nothing else is even close: If society were capable of looking at human beings as human beings and not as members of teams, groups and tribes, this would have still been a mess, but a much less toxic one. There are groups, political parties, activists, irresponsible scholars and race-hucksters of all kinds who benefit and profit by dividing the United States along racial fault-lines, and they will do it for as long as they can, no matter what harm it does to the nation, families, individuals, institutions, values and the enjoyment of life. This is an example of what we have to dread in greater frequency and damage if we don’t find a way to stifle these villains, for that is what they are.

Related to this are accounts that the president of the local NAACP was elated. This isn’t a team sport: two young women were honored for their achievements, not their race. If it would be offensive for a local group to express pleasure that two white students received an honor, it is equally obnoxious and inappropriate for the NAACP to be making racial comments.

2 If the school counselor was really the culprit who used the wrong standard, he or she needs to go. Yes, the whole school is responsible, including the principal, but if ever a scapegoat was called for, however, this is it. Because of the predictable chain reaction, it was an inexcusable mistake. In Mississippi? In a predominantly black student body? The ethics alarms should have been ringing at ear-splitting volume before the grade calculations ever started. Quite simply, this was a mistake that must not be made.

3. Suspicions that race was a factor in using the wrong standard are inevitable at a time when so many standards are being attacked, eliminated or changed for not yielding the “right” results by the measure of “equity and diversity.” The fact that two black students were elevated above the white ones by the “mistaken” use of the wrong standard under the rules and tradition could have been a coincidence, but the white parents, and objective critics, have every reason to wonder, just as the black parents have every reason to suspect racial bias when the value of their children’s honor was cut in half to satisfy two white families.

Continue reading

The Unethical Ingredients Of The West Point High School Valedictorian Fiasco, Part I: A Perfect Storm

High school graduation

This ugly episode should not have become another racial controversy, and in a healthy culture it would not. But in 2021 it could not have been otherwise with these facts, and American have to decide if they want to live in a society where this happens, or whether they want something better.

The story is told well here, but the main facts are:

1. Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple were named 2021 valedictorian and salutatorian for West Point High School in Mississippi on Seniors Awards Night. Both are African-American.

2. The parents of two white students in the class, Emma Berry and Dominic Borgioli, objected. They had been carefully calculating their children’s grade point averages, and by their records, Emma and Dominic had earned the honors given to Ikeria and Layla.

3. By the school’s own handbook, they were right. Ikeria and Layla had been awarded the honors based on a calculation of quality point average or Q.P.A.,which calculates grades by giving extra weight to advanced placement and dual credit courses. Dominic and Emma were the top two finishers based on an unweighted grade point average, and according to the rules, it was that distinction, not the Q.P.A., which should have been used to decide the class’s valedictorian and salutatorian. A school counselor charged with ranking the class had made a mistake and used the wrong standard…or at least that’s the school’s story.

Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Cal)

Ken-Calvert-640x480

This goes right into my rapidly growing “What an idiot!” file.

A $1.9 billion Capitol security spending bill passed the House by a single vote, 213-212 last week because Rep. Calvert, a Republican who had the proxy of Rep. John Carter (R-TX), presumably so he could vote the same way for Carter that he voted himself, didn’t cast Carter’s vote. Calvert, like most Republicans, voted against the Democrat-supported bill, deemed necessary because 300 jerks mobbed the Capitol on January 6 and the Capitol police “stood down” until it was too late to block them. If Calvert had cast two votes rather than just his one, the bill would have failed: ties go to the opposition in the House. Carter’s letter granting authority to his colleague to cast his vote by proxy was submitted to the House clerk and accepted.

So what was Calvert’s explanation for why he didn’t cast Carter’s vote and defeat the bill?

“I forgot.”

Continue reading

Observations And Questions About The Weirdest Political Photo Ever…

Carters and Bidens

Once again I have to say, “I don’t understand this AT ALL.”

The photo didn’t come from the Babylon Bee, it came from the Carter Center, which was not hacked. The place really did send out this ridiculous photo that makes Joe Biden look like Andre the Giant, Rosalynn Carter look like Lily Tomlin playing “Edith Ann” on “Laugh-in,” Dr. Biden look like she’s remaking “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman” and the former President look like Dorf.

1. What idiot at the Carter Center didn’t pick up on the fact that the photo made the Center’s scions look like dolls? How hard is that? Is this fool still employed? Does he or she secretly hate the Carters? “We’re pleased to share this wonderful photo from the @POTUS and @FLOTUS visit to see the Carters in Plains, Ga.!” the Center’s tweet said. “Wonderful”? It’s an incompetent photo.

2. What allged photographer took that monstrosity? Who approved and released it? Who are these incompetent employees?

3. No masks? No masks inside within inches of two high risk seniors in their Nineties?

Continue reading

Ethics Potpourri, 4/5/2021, Including, I Blush To Say, An Easter Weekend Lap-Dance for God

I hate potpourri.

1. Amateur poetry ethics. This has annoyed me for a long, long time. Althouse posted a notice from a local restaurant requiring patrons to wear masks. The thing suddenly devolves into verse, and in writing that, I am being generous. Here’s a sample:

I’ve been listening to and reading crap like that since I was ten, and when I was ten, I wrote better light verse by far. Since then, I’ve written song parodies and light verse for fun and profit, and still do. It’s a skill. It takes practice, and it requires care and detail, like most tasks. OK, I know that today’s nearly useless schools don’t teach little things like rhyme, meter and the basics of verse, but if you don’t know how to do something competently, don’t do it. Is this supposed to be a Dr. Seuss parody? I can’t tell, and the first rule of parodies is that they must clearly be parodies. Dr. Seuss has famous style and meter, and this whatever it is doesn’t match it. The problem is that people who author embarrassing junk like this don’t know they are incompetent. They think everyone will think they are clever, but anyone who regard something like this—that presents “forget” and “respect”as rhymes, for example— is clever is illiterate.

2. It takes one to know one. On ABC’s “This Week,” yesterday, former NJ Governor and once-rising GOP star Chris Christie correctly characterized the Democratic attacks on the Georgia voting reform law. “It expands early voting, George, and the president said it ended it. Listen, here’s what Joe Biden’s got to live with when he wakes up this morning on Easter morning. He is doing exactly what he sat around in the campaign and the transition and accused Donald Trump of doing,” Christie said. “He is lying to cause racial divisions in this country. That’s what he accused Donald Trump of doing, and he’s a liar and a hypocrite.”

Yes he is, but who cares what Chris Christie thinks? He’s also a liar and a hypocrite; he has no followers outside of his family, and he sold his integrity to grease Donald Trump’s route to the Republican nomination. This is another example of the unethical media practice of choosing a revolting advocate for the position a news organization wants to discredit. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale manipulation 101: make sure the “authority” opposing the dishonest Democratic talking point is widely regarded as toxic jerk.

Continue reading

Today’s Dispatch From “The Great Stupid”: The Chivalry Assignment (Corrected)

Chivalry

At Texas’s Shallowater High School, a “chivalry” assignment given to female students required girls to “dress in a feminine manner,” lower their heads and curtsy to please men, “walk behind men daintily as if their feet were bound,” and “not complain or whine.” The boys were told to dress in jackets and ties, pick up any object dropped by “the ladies” and to hold doors open, among other things.

The alleged purpose of the assignment was to “demonstrate to the school how the code of chivalry and standards set in the medieval concept of courtly love carries over into the modern day.” An assignment sheet included a set of “rules” with a line for an “adult witness signature” next to each:

Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/27/2021: Confusion And Irony

Doomscrolling” is a relatively new term to describe the habit of constantly checking one’s smartphone for bad news. Jeffrey Hall, professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, has spent over 10 years studying technology use in conjunction with relationships. He says that the mass media is intentionally triggering the habit:

“People tend to have what’s called negativity bias when it comes to information. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s related to the idea that we needed to be more alert to threats. If things are not particularly surprising, we can reside in a very low energy state, but as soon as we see something that’s potentially threatening or worrisome, it piques our attention. The algorithms are picking up on what we engage in, and our attentive processes tend to focus on the more negative information….”

The professor recommends filtering social media as a remedy:

“You can also take active steps to recognize if there are people who are a part of your social network that seem to be fueling your sense of doom and gloom. You may want to consider unsubscribing or muting them. People are very loath to actually unfriend or stop following a person altogether. However, there are ways to not get that content. Oftentimes we’re very upset about content we see, but we don’t do anything to change what we see.”

I dunno, professor! The people on Facebook seem to revel in shared, if imaginary, gloom and doom. Most of them “muted” me when I pointed out that the false narratives about the President being some kind of a traitorous Nazi racist monster trying to end American democracy were media-driven, partisan scams. That should have been good news, and it happened to be true. Instead, my Facebook friends crawled back into their comforting imaginary crisis bubble and, from what I can see, virtually no one there reads any EA posts that I put up. Trump Derangement was (in fact, is) a fad, a pastime, and sort of a club that eventually metastasized into a mindless mob.

1. On the question of canceling artists of bad character…A note that on this date in 1936 Shirley Temple, who was all of seven years old, signed a deal paying her almost a million dollars per picture in today’s currency reminded me of this horrible story: when Shirley was an attractive teen seeking to transition away from child roles, she met with MGM’s legendary movie musical chief, Arthur Freed. He exposed himself at the interview, and Shirley’s mother decreed that she would have no further dealings with MGM.

First, how sick to you have to be to expose yourself to Shirley Temple (the term “scumbag” comes to mind)? Second, would that justify refusing to watch and enjoy all of the classic musicals he was responsible for at the studio, like “Singing in the Rain,” “The Bandwagon,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Gigi,” the Mickey and Judy films, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and many more? How about all of the songs he wrote, including the ones used in “Singing’ in the Rain”? I love that movie, but it is presented as a celebration of Arthur Freed, as is another favorite, “That’s Entertainment!” And the guy exposed himself to Shirley Temple!!!

Continue reading