Introducing A Third Niggardly Principle, And A Dilemma: Does It Apply To The Confederate Flag?

Scarolina flag

Before unveiling the new Third Niggardly Principle, indulge me some observation  on the emergence of a renewed controversy over the Confederate flag as a response to the Charleston, South Carolina shooting of nine black churchgoers last week:

1. The Confederate battle flag did not cause Dylann Roof to start shooting. If  all the Confederate flag had been retired to museums 100 years ago, it would not have turned him into a civil rights advocate.

2. The effort of anti-flag advocates, who are frequently advocates of censorship and restrictions on free speech as well, to exploit this tragedy to advance their pet grievance is transparent and obnoxious, and is even more attenuated than the furious efforts of anti-gun zealots to do the same thing.

3. The flag, like many symbols, represents different things to different people. Racial hate and bigotry is only one of them. The flag legitimately represents pride in a family legacy (“My great grandfather died bravely in Pickett’s Charge”), the historical record, opposition to federal government overreach,  aesthetic appeal, or defiance of authority generally (“I’m a rebel”). Old Glory also represents different things to different people, and we do not ban it because what it symbolizes to some people is unpleasant for them. (Yes, I know some schools have done exactly that. One hopes they are outliers)

4. Mitt Romney’s much praised tweet—“Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.” —is simple-minded and irresponsible. (See the previous post.) Is Mitt arguing that any speech, symbol or expression that “many” find offensive should be suppressed? It sounds like it to me. Since Roof’s act had nothing to do with the flag, nor was it related to slavery or the Confederacy, how does taking the flag down “honor” his victims? Sure: Roof liked the flag, because of what it symbolized to him. He also liked Gold’s Gym:

dylann-roof1

Would closing down all the Gold Gyms in South Carolina honor his victims? The fact that the attack was racially motivated and that racists often display Confederate flags does not make a state flying the flag complicit in the shootings. Stop using Twitter to discuss complex issues, Mitt! Continue reading

Cover-up: Successful

Somebody tell Rep. Gowdy that his committee's investigation is futile. The news media and the public just don't mind being lied to any more.

Somebody tell Rep. Gowdy that his committee’s investigation is futile. The news media and the public just don’t mind being lied to any more.

From USA Today:

One day after the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded the assault had been planned 10 days earlier by an al-Qaeda affiliate, according to documents released Monday by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. “The attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was planned and executed by The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman,” said a preliminary intelligence report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, obtained through a lawsuit following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Wait…I thought that Hillary Clinton, State, President Obama and Susan Rice were all laboring under the misconception that the attack was spontaneous and prompted by a YouTube video, and the claims that the Obama Administration was stalling the revelations of what they already knew so Mitt Romney couldn’t challenge Obama’s carefully manufactured narrative that he had terrorism on the run were just partisan sour grapes. That’s been the spin the liberal press has been accepting from the White House for over two years.

What’s going on here? Well, the “narrative” carefully shifted away from the most transparent administration in history lying to the American public to excessive Republican claims that the outpost wasn’t given proper security, wasn’t rescued when it could have been, was the product of criminal incompetence. As soon as those accusations failed, Democrats and the news media promptly adopted the official Obama line: Benghazi was a “nothingburger,” in the contemptuous words of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. It was a manufactured scandal of no substance designed to discredit Hillary Clinton.

But no evidence proved that Obama, Clinton and Rice weren’t lying about the attacks being spontaneous and not organized terrorism, and all the evidence has demonstrated the contrary, with this latest piece of the puzzle simply filling in some of the blanks. Of course, the latest story wasn’t even covered by most of the mainstream media; I was shocked to see it in USA Today. Judicial Watch is a conservative organization, you see. To be fair, it’s a whack job conservative organization. That means it could legitimately discover cold fusion and the news media wouldn’t pay attention.

Maybe it isn’t news. After all, the Obama cover-up worked. As Harry Reid said, after admitting his part in the organized effort to make sure that the 2012 Presidential elections was based as much on smears, lies and slight of hand as real issues, “Romney lost, didn’t he?” Hillary’s famous dismissal of the issue in the Benghazi hearings was on the mark: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Millennium: Senator Harry Reid, Fick

“Romney didn’t win, did he?”

Senator Harry Reid to CNN’s Dana Bash, when she asked him whether he regretted his outright lie during the 2012 Presidential campaign accusing GOP nominee Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes at all for the past 10 years.

As bad as Reid looks, what lies beneath is infinitely worse...

As bad as Reid looks, what lies beneath is infinitely worse…

This is the Unethical Quote of The Millennium because it is literally impossible to say anything that demonstrates more contempt for ethical values. Moreover, Reid announced his ethical void on national TV with evident satisfaction and a complete lack of shame, making him a fick--someone who revels in being unethical.

In the old days, it was called “evil.”

Here, I’ll let Chris Cillizza, a Washington Post political reporter, explain what is so wrong with this despicable quote, the watermark of a totally corrupt political figure and  deplorable human being:

Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Un-Named Members Of Mitt Romney’s Campaign Staff

My guess? This whole Secret Service mess makes Clint want to throw up. Then there's that Mediaite headline...

My guess? This whole Secret Service mess makes Clint want to throw up. Then there’s that Mediaite headline…

 Inside Sources Reports:

“Multiple sources inside the Romney presidential campaign confirm that a Secret Service agent provided details of President Obama’s schedule several days prior to the President’s campaign stops becoming public….In the closing weeks of the 2012 campaign, a Secret Service agent was on the ground in a key swing state to coordinate security ahead of several campaign stops by the President. The agent, who was married, made advances towards a Romney campaign staff member.

InsideSources spoke with two staffers who witnessed the events in question. Each spoke on condition of anonymity and independently confirmed the details.

In one particular incident at a bar in late October 2012, the Secret Service agent, who had a number of drinks during the meeting, unprompted and in an apparent attempt to impress one of the staffers, began providing details of President Obama’s schedule. The information included times and locations of the President’s events in the final days of the election. The President’s campaign would not release these details of the President’s schedule publicly until several days later.

The sources state that the same agent on a separate occasion provided joy rides in a Secret Service vehicle with the lights flashing.

The leaked schedule was later passed on within the campaign. Others inside the campaign recall seeing the schedule, but the source of the information was not revealed. The schedule, therefore, was met only with skepticism. The details of the President’s schedule later proved to be accurate.

Former advisers to the Romney campaign note that the leaked schedule, which was not widely circulated within the campaign, did not impact the campaign’s strategy. It received little attention as the election was days away.”

Wait...what????

Multiple members of Mitt Romney’s staff knew that a Secret Service agent was endangering the President by revealing sensitive details about his schedule in 2012, and they waited until now to let anyone know?

They had an absolute duty—as Americans— to reveal this to the Secret Service itself immediately. Were they just waiting for a juicy time to reveal it, say, after this same idiot with an earpiece got the President killed? Did Mitt Romney approve the lack of the proper response? Or some campaign strategist who feared that the revelation would backfire, and cost votes? How many Romney staff members knew the President was at risk, and kept it to themselves? Do we even know now who this agent was, and whether he is still on duty?

The damage done by the incompetence of the Democratic government is substantially amplified by the ethical obtuseness of its Republican critics.

BONUS: The Mediaite headline on this story has to be one of the worst-composed in recent memory:

“Secret Service Agent Allegedly Told Someone Obama’s Movements to ‘Impress a Woman'”

I read it two ways, and neither was what the headline was supposed to convey:

#1: Obama was trying to impress some woman

#2: Ew!

_____________________________

Pointer: Mediaite

Facts: Inside Sources

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: New York Magazine Columnist Frank Rich

Stay classy, Frank.

Stay classy, Frank.

Full disclosure: I went to college with Frank Rich. He gave me a rave review for a performance once. When he turned into the vicious, biased, hateful jerk he reveals himself to be in his not merely progressive but irrationally  hostile to conservatism op-ed columns and, prior to that, his vitriolic and hyper-critical theater reviews for the Times, I don’t know. Maybe if I had befriended him back then, he would not be the bitter misanthrope his is today. Maybe just an outstretched hand, a kind word, or a sharp, “Why don’t you stop being such a dick?” would have turned the tide of his life around. Alas, we shall never know.

Here is what Rich tweeted yesterday, upon learning of the guilty verdict handed down against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife:

Rich Tweet

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Being Fair To Hillary

"I'm doing this because I think it makes me look passionate..."

“I’m doing this because I think it makes me look passionate and sincere…”

I wanted to write about fairness this morning, in part because a troll that I ended up banning yesterday kept insisting that the ethical value of fairness was about “feelings.” (Have you visited, by the way, the excellent website, listed among the links here, fairness.com? You should!) That’s nonsense, but it is certainly true that fairness is often a controversial concept, and opinions of what constitutes fairness can diverge widely.

In the process of the mainstream media trying to ram Hillary Clinton down our throats as the next oppressed group President who couldn’t be impeached no matter what she did—and how entertaining it is watching Chris Cuomo grimace, roll his eyes and bite his tongue as his female CNN colleagues shift into “Yay Hillary!” mode every morning—, the pro-Hillary journalists are increasingly becoming full-fledged campaign flacks, which is disgraceful. Watch this interview with Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, in which CNN’s Erin Burnett plays the role of a Clinton defender on Benghazi without any hint of objectivity at all. They are also, however, having to cope with the uncomfortable facts of Clinton’s career, and if they intend to keep defending her—and they do—the hypocrisy will become overwhelming.

The Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post, for example, notes that “an unpublished interview” has surfaced in which Clinton expresses glee at the acquittal of an accused child rapist she was defending. The documents from the case show that Clinton, who was defending the man pro bono as a young lawyer, offered the kind of defense that feminists condemn, questioning the conduct and the propriety of the victim. Henneberger pre-empts criticism by properly explaining the lawyer’s duty of zealous representation before she even describes what Clinton did. Would she have handled such a story the same way if the young lawyer had been “War on Women” monger Mitt Romney? I doubt it very much. Similarly, Jennifer Rubin in the same paper wonders if the media will use Clinton’s wealth, employment of tax reduction strategies and presumed greed against her, as it did Mitt. Good question, though the answer is pretty obvious, I think. Continue reading

Anderson Cooper’s Reflections on Inheritance: Not Unethical, Perhaps; Just Ignorant, Self-Serving and Presumptuous

I was going to let this go, but it kept gnawing at me, and nobody in the news media called out Anderson Cooper on his outrageous misrepresentation of history and human character. I guess it’s up to me.

gloria-vanderbilt-anderson-cooper

“Thanks for nothing, Mom!”

Cooper is the son of fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, and thus an heir to one of the most storied of American family fortunes. Apparently Cooper has known for some time that he’s getting none of his mother’s estimated 200 million dollar estate, and he told Howard Stern recently that he was fine about it, an had no bitterness or regrets.

“I don’t believe in inheriting money, ” he told Stern. “That’s a total fantasy … I think it’s an initiative-sucker, I think it’s a curse. Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life? If I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know that I would have been so motivated.”

As for his mother, who inherited many millions and who still made a name for herself by launching a  line of designer jeans, Cooper told Stern, “I think that’s an anomaly.”

Cooper is free to adopt whatever myths and rationalizations that help him get over the fact that his mother is cutting him off. He is not free to misinform the historically ignorant that a tendency exists which may describe his own mental state but which is far from the presumptive norm with others throughout the centuries. “Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life?” The answer to that question is “Too many to mention, Anderson. Are you kidding? Do you know anything about history?”

Just counting U.S. Presidents, which I think even in this period of reduced stature among White House occupants, would still qualify as “doing something with your life,” we have Washington, Madison and Monroe, all of whom inherited substantial property and assets from their families, as did William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison. Both Roosevelts inherited substantial wealth; so did William Howard Taft, whose family was (and is) one of the richest in the U.S. Both Bush’s managed not to let the curse of inherited wealth undermine their wills to succeed. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Rep. Braley’s Anti-Farmer Insult

A farmer, a framer, a farmer (and law school drop-out), and a lawyer. Final Score: Farmers 3, Lawyer 1.

A farmer, a farmer, a farmer (and law school drop-out), and a lawyer. Final Score: Farmers 3, Lawyer 1.

You wouldn’t know it if you read only mainstream media sources (Translation of ” mainstream media sources”—“supposedly objective and neutral news outlets that edit the news to do minimal damage to candidates, parties and policies that their overwhelmingly left-leaning staffs support”), but the presumptive Democratic candidate for Sen.Tom Harkin’s soon to be vacant U.S. Senate seat in Iowa insulted farmers (this is Iowa, remember) in a speech and was caught on video.

In a private fund-raising appearance before Texas trial lawyers, Rep. Bruce Braley warned of the consequences of a  Republican Senate majority by saying

“You might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because, if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Some observations:

  • The insulting characterization of farmers (as well as  Grassley) is being compared to Mitt Romney’s infamous statement to some big money donors about “the 47%,” which was captured surreptitiously by Jimmy Carter’s son-in-law and used to stir up the Democratic base. As in the case of Romney, I will point out that surreptitious recording and publicizing of what is said at any private event is unethical, flat-out wrong, no matter who does it, or for what reason. Private functions should be respected, as should what is said there, unless there are criminal conspiracies afoot.

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Melissa’s Apology, Take #2: Much Better!

Melissa finally realized that this photo isn't funny.

Melissa finally realized that this photo isn’t funny.

I posted earlier about the sub-par apologies offered by the infamous MSNBC Three, who decided to indulge their hate for Mitt Romney and Republicans by ridiculing the fact that Romney’s family now includes an adopted African American infant. Either Melissa Harris-Perry got a Martin Bashir memo, or she sincerely decided that she had not adequately communicated regret for the ethically indefensible segment. What she delivered, on the air this time rather than through Twitter, arguable qualifies as a Level #1 apology [“An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.”]:

“Without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family. Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy. But their families, and especially their children, should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground-rule that families are off-limits. And for that I am sorry. Also, allow me to apologize to other families formed through trans-racial adoption, because I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule. On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. It is one of our core principles. And I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect. We’re genuinely appreciative of everyone who offered serious criticisms of last Sunday’s program, and I am reminded that our fiercest critics can sometimes be our best teachers.”

Harris-Perry deserves special credit for the last sentence. She didn’t have to say that, and it is an excellent point for her to make, especially on her network, where some critics have been told that someone needs to shit in their mouths. Continue reading

Update: Apology Scores For The MSNBC Vicious Three

deanpia

Several readers have asked for the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale scores for the three MSNBC creeps who decided to use a loving, non-political family photo featuring Mitt Romney’s newly adopted grandchild as an opportunity to sneer at the family, Mitt and the GOP, and engage in some unprovoked race-baiting. It was such an ugly display that decent human beings a) would never have engaged in it at all and b) wouldn’t have required a wave of criticism to wash over them to realize apologies were in order, but they did. Why? Because they are hateful people, unsavory and loathsome. As such, I really had decided that mucking around in MSNBC swill wasn’t worth a second post, but since you asked, here are the scores. The best apologies are in category #1…no danger of that with this sorry trio.

Apology 1: Dean Obeidallah Continue reading