I’m Thankful That So Many Americans Will Refuse To Comply With Pandemic Orders From Arrogant And Contemptuous Elected Officials Like These

Thanksgiving plus US

Elected mayors and governors across the country have simultaneously demanded obeisance to their burdensome orders constraining American rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while showcasing their belief that they are above the obligation to live by their own rules.

I’m grateful for this disgusting phenomenon. It vividly exposes a political class that thinks Americans are marks and fools, or perhaps some kind of human-sheep hybrid. These elected dictators’ not-so-secret desire is to dominate and rule. They have but a faint concept of what a representative democracy means, and have contempt for it and us. Members of the public who can’t see the unethical double standards these nascent totalitarians would inflict on the nation, or worse, those who accept and tolerate the double standards, are the intended victims. Fortunately, there are still a critical number of citizens who recall this nation’s origins as a rebellion against tyrants.

The open contempt these leaders have for us is staggering. Perhaps they expected their allied propagandists among news media to hide the hypocrisy, which so far it has been unwilling to do. Actually, considering the embargo on stories that might reflect positively on President Trump during the run-up to this months election, it is surprising our aspiring dictators haven’t been provided with more cover. This is something else to be thankful for.

From the Thanksgiving section of the Dead Ethics Alarms files:

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Comment Of The Day: “Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!” (Item #3, Pelosi’s Hair Appt.)

Here is zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Wednesday Ethics, 9/2/2020: Faking Here, Faking There, Faking, Faking Everywhere!,” regarding #3, which discussed the Nancy Pelosi hair salon debacle:

Pelosi demonstrates arrogant dishonesty. Again.

I wish she *had* been set up. The more politicians are compelled to be on their best behaviour 100% of the time lest their true colours be shown in public, the better.

Right now, the bar has been set so low the DNC can get away with anything, and still look and be “better” than their opponents. That is unutterably wrong, and the greatest damage caused by this Presidency. The normalising of the unacceptable.

But that’s Trump. This is Pelosi, and she shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it if we are to remedy the damage. When they go low, we have to go high. That is obviously not happening. It’s gotta stop.

***

I jumped zoebrain’s comment over two idling COTD, for several reasons. Yes, it’s short, but zoe is usually admirably concise. I was preparing a longer post about the Pelosi incident, and this comment provides a perfect opening. It also harkens back to my 2015 post, “A Nation of Assholes.” What I did not foresee was that the Trump “lowering of the bar” for the culture’s civility, integrity and ethics generally would be exploited so thoroughly by adults: I assumed that it would be the rising generations that would be corrupted. But no, unfortunately. As the follow-up posts to that one quickly acknowledged,  it was every other part of the culture, in particular Democrats and the “resistance.” Continue reading

Let’s Get The Week Off To A Positive Start With Encouraging Ethics Stories! Like…Oh. Never Mind…(Part I)

I try. I really do. In 2016, it was about this time when I started getting complaints that too many of the posts were about political topics…what I needed to do was write more about people in lobster hats.

I search the most obscure sources to try to find non-political ethics topics. I’m so sick of the politicizing of everything I could spit—in fact, I think I will. There. Just let me wipe off the screen… The final straw may have been having to look at “Black Lives Matter” in the center field bleachers in Fenway Park. I’m about to grab my machete and run amuck.

However, the attempt by the Democratic Party, “the resistance,” and the mainstream news media to try to first, rig the 2016 election, then to undo the 2016 election, then to deny the legitimacy of the President elected, then to try to engineer a soft coup, and now to use disinformation, and social unrest to corrupt the 2020 election, in total a general assault on democracy and our culture of democracy itself, is the most important ethics  story of the past half-century by far.  It is among the three most consequential ethics stories of the last hundred years, along with the civil rights movement and the Red Scare/McCarthyism.  This is an ethics blog. I have to write about it.

But I promise to keep searching for as many non-political stories as I can find. I do miss the assistance of now retired crack ethics story scout Fred, who somehow sniffed out issues and controversies from the damnedest places, but many of you are helping out. Keep looking.

1. What’s going on here? Why isn’t it obvious to everybody?  In Illinois, leaders in education, politics and other areas gathered in Evanston yesterday to demand that the Illinois State Board of Education….wait for it!… eliminate history classes in public schools statewide.  State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford held a news conferences to argue that current history books create a racist society and overlook the contributions of women and minorities, so school districts should immediately remove history books that “unfairly communicate” history. “It costs us as a society in the long run forever when we don’t understand our brothers and sisters that we live, work and play with,” Ford said, explaining that he is sponsoring a bill that would require elementary schools to prioritize teaching students about the civil rights movement.

Of course, this is an open demand for propaganda rather than education,  advancing the core belief of Black Lives Matter that Fac’s Don’t Matter. What is significant is that Ford and others are so transparent about it. Those who have actually read about history—it’s not as if schools competently teach it now—know that fanatic movements keep pushing for increasingly extreme demands as long as as those in power and the public hesitate to say “No. That’s irresponsible and ridiculous.” Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethic Train Wreck Update

1. Dr. Fauci told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton yesterday, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it…You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye. Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

Now you tell us!

Though Fauci is in a high-risk demographic, he has never been shown wearing goggles. Or are glasses like he wears (and I do), good enough? If that’s true, he should say so, NOW. Then again, he didn’t wear a mask when he wasn’t social distancing at the Nats game last week.

2. Explain to me again why Fauci is so beloved and sucked up to by the same news media that claims President Trump has “blood on his hands” from his handling of the completely unpredictable pandemic. Fauci has been inconsistent; he has been flat out wrong on many occasions, and then we get head scratchers like a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, where he lauded New York’s disastrous response to the Wuhan virus.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” he told PBS’s Judy Woodruff. “New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly.”

Really? Doing nothing to curb the obvious virus-encouraging subway travel at the peak of the outbreak…

was “doing it right”? Governor Cuomo dumping infected seniors into nursing homes was “doing it right?”

Lest we forget.. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Covidiot Or Responsible Leader?

The mayor and her hairdresser…

Remember the gag in the original Batman movie, after the Joker poisons some soap and cosmetic products and news anchors go on the air looking like hell? This story reminded me of that.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has just recently pivoted to race-baiting as a strategy for getting through the pandemic—nice— was forced into defending getting a $500 haircut in defiance of her own state’s  stay-at-home order.  Lightfoot had appeared recent in a public service announcement urging Chicagoans to stay home to save lives. She also spoke to her city’s women specifically, saying “Getting your roots done is not essential.” I would interpret this as “Forget about vanity: this is a national crisis.” Hairstylists and barbers are not on Illinois’ list of essential businesses and must be closed during the Wuhan virus outbreak.

Nonetheless, the Mayor had the city pay a hairdresser 500 dollars for a private hair-cutting session. If there was ever the appearance of a “laws are for the little people,” this episode is it.

The Mayor’s defense is that  because she’s “the face of this city,” maintaining her appearance is a special and necessary exception.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is..

Is the Mayor’s explanation and conduct ethical?

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Ethics Hero: Richard Schwartz, Responsible Citizen, And How His Experience Explains Donald Trump

Want to know why people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more, so they decide to vote for anyone who appears to be outside the elite cabal that pretends to deliver “democracy?” Here’s a striking example.

During a public comment period during a Seattle city council meeting, Richard Schwartz came to the podium to make his case. He was troubled, as he should have been, that most of the council members were not looking at him, or appeared to be listening. Most were looking at their computer screens or smart phones, scrolling and apparently doing other tasks, or looking at porn, for all he knew. So instead of meekly accepting the disrespect and rudeness of his elected municipal representatives, he called them on it.

“It’s real discouraging to come up here and see all the heads down…,” he began, but Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who was presiding,  interrupted , saying “You’re on a two minute timer here, so let’s go.”

Schwartz professed puzzlement at the response, and after standing silently for several seconds, he asked,

“So it was unreasonable for me to ask that people look up and give me their attention?” Juarez answered by telling him that he only had only a minute and 30 seconds left, and lying, saying that he had their attention, when he obviously did not.

Discarding his prepared statement, since it was obvious that the City Council would only observe its obligation to take public comments in form rather than in good faith, Schwartz said that this was why he came to comment: “the state of our democracy.”  He pointed out that when State Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) spoke in a public comment session the previous week,  she was four or fine minutes and the council was attentive, while everyone else at that session was limited to a single minute.

“It reminded me of George Orwell’s famous line from ‘Animal Farm’ about how all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” Schwartz continued. And that’s how I feel like I’m being treated now, just because I was kind of asking for your attention, like I noticed you all were very attentive to Ms. Jaypal last week. And I immediately got a hostile response back from you. I don’t understand that.”

With no response, he asked the council members if they ever responded to constituents.  Juarez told him his time was nearly up, as her colleagues either tended to their phones or looked bored.

“Well, it’s all on tape and I think it’s a pretty sad commentary that you think that asking for you guys to look up off of your computers and give attention during the short period of time was an unreasonable thing,”  Schwartz  said. “I really feel bad about that.”

He should feel bad about that. We all should. Democracy doesn’t work when elected officials treat the public this way; it can’t. This is democracy in name only. The stunning thing is that Seattle’s city council is so corrupted by their own sense of entitlement, wisdom and certitude that no ethics alarms pinged when an engaged voter begged them to pay attention to him for a couple of minutes.

For a second straight post, let me reference this November 9 whine-fest by feminist Jessica Valenti called, “How do I tell my daughter that America elected a racist, sexist bully?” Continue reading

The Most Unethical Sentencing Fallacy Of All: Lavinia Woodward Gets “The King’s Pass”

Oxford University student Lavinia Woodward, 24,  punched and stabbed her boyfriend in a drunken rage, then hurled a jam jar, a glass and a laptop at him. This, in the U.S., would be called a criminal assault, and maybe even attempted murder.  Ah, but British Judge Ian Pringle knows better. He agrees these acts would normally mean a prison term, but Lavinia is a star student, and wants to be a surgeon. He hinted that he would spare her prison time so that her “extraordinary” talent would not be wasted. As poor Lavinia’s barrister, James Sturman, argued, his client’s dreams of becoming a surgeon would be “almost impossible” if she had to serve time.

Well, we certainly mustn’t jeopardize a violent felon’s dreams.

This kind of reasoning is infused with The King’s Pass, also known as The Star Syndrome, the rationalization making the perverse unethical argument that the more talented, prominent, useful and important to society a miscreant is, the less he or she should be accountable for misconduct that nets lesser lights serious and devastating consequences:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

Judge Pringle is taking the King’s Pass/Star Syndrome to a new low: he’s arguing that Lavinia should receive special treatment based on how valuable to society she might be, given enough immunity from the consequences of her own conduct.  Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

 

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has pledged “not participate personally and substantially in any matter that has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests” of his financial holdings, without obtaining an official waiver for doing so. He also had advance notice of how a Trump administration figure could breach ethics rules when Kellyanne Conway, in the course of criticizing organized boycotts of First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s merchandise line, blurted out  “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” during an interview on “Fox & Friends.”  The Office of Government Ethics and members of   the House Oversight Committee urged disciplinary action for Conway’s clear, if probably inadvertent, ethics violation. (None occurred. It should have.)

Never mind. During a C-Span broadcast interview last week, Secretary Mnuchin was asked for a movie recommendation (this was a set-up, but an easy one to duck), and said,

“I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product. But you should send all your kids to ‘Lego Batman.’ “

HAHAHAHAHA!!! ‘I’m not supposed to do this because it’s unethical, but I’ll do it anyway, because ethics rules are silly, the President doesn’t care about them, and besides, Kellyanne got away with it, and so will I!’ Continue reading

To Place The Recent Comey Letter And Hillary Clinton’s Character In Proper Perspective, Recall This Post From January, 2016

no-reflection

It was an Unethical Quote of the Month, and a Kaboom, as it blew the top of my head straight off. Significantly, none of the Hillary defenders among the  regular commentators tried to spin it, and in just ten months, it has been buried by so many other smoking guns and examples of signature significance regarding this woman’s unshakable conviction that normal rules of conduct don’t, and shouldn’t, apply to her. Indeed I had forgotten it myself. Its last sentence was,

“I really don’t know how supporters of Hillary Clinton can look at themselves in the mirror. I really don’t.”

That statement is easily twice as true now as it was then. Here is the post, titled, Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary Clinton (And By The Way, KABOOM!)…..

“I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State.”

Hillary Clinton, responding to a 2011 e-mail sent by senior aides  about a dispatch from John Godfrey, a State Department employee.

This wasn’t the most explosive of the Clinton e-mails revealed today by the court-ordered State Department release, but it’s the one that made my head explode. How long did Hillary claim that her using a private e-mail sever for official communications was “permitted,” that she did nothing wrong, that no State Department procedures or policies dictated otherwise, four years after she expressed surprise at the irregularity of Godfrey’s conduct? Hillary wasn’t just careless or clueless—she knew all along that using a personal e-mail account was wrong and risky. Why else would she be “surprised”? Who is surprised at employees doing what is allowed and appropriate?

My head didn’t explode because I was shocked that Hillary has been lying all along. I always assume she’s lying. It exploded because her brazen hypocrisy is mind-blowing. This is worse than her saying that victims of sexual abuse have a right to be believed. This is like Bill Clinton saying that the victims of sexual abuse have a right to be believed.

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Good: Hope Solo Finally Loses The Protection Of The Star Syndrome; Bad: U.S. Soccer Still Doesn’t Get It; Good: Hope Provides Rationalization #59

Solo loses

The Star Syndrome, a.k.a “The King’s Pass,” #11 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List, is the ethics bane of organizations generally and sports especially. It is one of the major catalysts of cultural corruption, whether the “star” is Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong, Manny Ramirez, O.J. Simpson, Roget Ailes,  Brian Williams, George S. Patton, or Werner Von Braun. To refresh your memory…

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust.

Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others, through…

11. (a) “I deserve this!” or “Just this once!”

Especially common to the hero, the leader, the founder, the admired and the justly acclaimed is the variation on the Kings Pass that causes individuals who know better to convince themselves that their years of public service, virtue and sacrifice for the good of others entitle them to just a little unethical indulgence that would be impermissible if engaged in by a lesser accomplished individual. When caught and threatened with consequences, the practitioner of this rationalization will be indignant and wounded, saying, “With everything I’ve done, and all the good I’ve accomplished for others, you would hold this against me?” The correct answer to this is “We are very grateful for your past service, but yes.

There are few more striking examples of this phenomenon than women’s soccer star Hope Solo. The New York Times neatly summarizes her last decade of dubious conduct (I’m being diplomatic): Continue reading