Tag Archives: political ads

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/9/17: Everyone Behaving Abysmally Edition

Let’s scream “Good Morning!” to the sky!

1 The FBI is now complaining that it’s too difficult to break into smartphones, since the Texas maniac, Devin Kelley, had one that has so far resisted cracking. By all means, let’s make sure we have no privacy from government intrusions into our lives and relationships. I’m sure—I really am sure—that the “think of the children!” mob and the “if it saves only one life!” brigade will happily surrender the right to privacy, which is, per the Supreme Court, is also in the Bill of Rights, just like the rights of free speech and the right to bear arms.

The solution is right in front of the FBI anyway.  Just take Kelley ‘s body on a plane trip to Bali, manipulate his dead thumb, and use it to unlock the phone.

2. I see little to choose from ethically between Facebook selling space for deceptive ads to the Russians and CNN selling time on their newscasts for a billionaire to make his personal, dishonest and ignorant demand that President Trump be impeached. I had heard and read about the ad, which is basically Maxine Waters’ warped version of the Constitution and the impeachment clause, with a little Richard Painter thrown in, but I assumed I would have to go online to see it. Nope, there it was this morning during a break on Headline News. Respectable news sources, not that CNN qualifies any more, have traditionally rejected factually misleading political ads from private interests, and a Constitutionally moronic rant from a rich guy with money to burn surely should qualify.

The rich guy is Tom Steyer, who apparently once was an intelligent human being even as you and I. His ad claims that “Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice, and taken money from foreign governments. We need to impeach this dangerous president.” Let’s see: the first is pure hysteria and an attempt to criminalize policy and international poker (I’d argue that the weak response to North Korea by the U.N. and previous administrations has been what has “brought us to the brink,” as well as, of course, the rogue country threatening nuclear attacks and firing missiles over Japan).

The second is a gonzo anti-Trump resistance theory that would be tossed out of any court, except maybe in Hawaii. The third is intentionally dishonest: this is the Emoluments Clause fantasy that holds the discredited theory a hotel owner has to be impeached if he doesn’t sell his hotels. Steyer’s ad also says that that Trump should be impeached for various tweets, half-baked opinions and comments. As one would expect from a  Democratic mega-donor, he apparently believes that speech qualifies as a high crime when it annoys progressives.

Naturally, again as one would expect, Steyer implies in his ad that Bill Clinton, who really did commit a crime as President and really did obstruct justice, was impeached by a Republican Congress for “far less.” This disqualifies him as a serious person.

3. Baseball fans know that Roy Halladay, a near-Hall of Fame pitcher with the Blue Jays and Phillies renowned for his durability until his arm fell off (metaphorically speaking), was killed this week when he crashed his single engine plane into the Gulf of Mexico. Observers say he was flying recklessly, and there is evidence that he wasn’t properly experienced to be operating the plane as he was. In Boston, radio sports jockey Michael Felger went on an extended rant excoriating the dead pitcher for being irresponsible, especially as a husband and father.  Here’s a sample: Continue reading

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Fair, Accurate, And Devastating: A Hillary Super-Pac’s Anti-Trump Ad

Donald Trump has said and done so many outrageous things since his November, 2015 mockery of a disabled journalist that many have probably forgotten how ugly, cruel and undignified it was. Trump also, you may recall, denied that he even knew the journalist was disabled—one of his many Jumbos (“Elephant? What elephant?”) since that accursed day that he entered the presidential race. Now a super-PAC supporting Hillary Clinton has taken that moment and employed it to make a vivid point, easily summarized as, “This guy wants to be President?”

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Jumbo, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, U.S. Society

A Disappointing and Damaging Ethics Dunce: The Obama Campaign

No matter who wins the Presidency on November 6, one thing is for certain. We now can be sure that the day will come when a future Presidential campaign runs an ad that concludes, “Don’t vote for him: he’s an asshole!” For that, we will be able to place the blame on, of all people, Barack Obama, and his 2012 campaign. This is the same Barack Obama who promised, the first time he was running for President, to change the tone in Washington; the same President Obama who told a group in 2010…

“But there is a sense that something is different now, that something is broken, that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should,” Mr. Obama said. “At times, it seems like we are unable to listen to one another, to have at once a serious and civil debate. This erosion of civility in the public square sows division and cynicism among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion….Civility is not a sign of weakness.”

Yet his 2012 campaign’s embrace of gutter-level name calling and divisive rhetoric, with the full participation of both the President and the Vice-President, has guaranteed that the tone Obama promised to change will change for the worse, and that the well of public opinion will be more toxic than ever. Continue reading

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“Mitt Romney — He’s Not One Of Us”

“I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message.”

I must admit that I could not devote my full attention to last night’s final Presidential debate. I had just seen the latest from President Obama’s attack machine, a television spot approved by Barack Obama, that concludes with the legend, “Mitt Romney—He’s Not One of Us.”  It is an unfair, shocking, miserable, indefensible, dangerous argument to be employed by any party, any candidate, in any race for any office in the United States, at any time in the nation’s history. For it to be employed with the approval of a President of the United States, and this President in particular, should be cause for mourning, but also anger.

If I thought that President Obama was actively involved in releasing this disgrace to his campaign and the ideals he claims to represent, I would have no difficulty concluding that it alone disqualifies him for a second term. I don’t believe that. Perhaps I won’t let myself believe that. One of Obamas myriad weaknesses as a leader, however, is that he tolerates unethical, incompetent and untrustworthy staff and advisors. He trusted his campaign advisors, and they betrayed his trust. Still, he is accountable. Continue reading

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Funny! But Wrong: The Democratic National Committee’s Fake Romney Site

Unethical.

Don’t tell me I have no sense of humor. I get it, and it’s clever. Kind of fun, too. But just because a form of dirty campaigning is funny doesn’t change the basic principles it violates. Putting out a fake version of a political opponent’s supporter, poster, flyer, campaign material, web address, Twitter feed or website in order to trick people into either believing that the opposition campaign’s campaign or candidate is saying or doing something they are not really saying or doing for any purpose, including satire, crosses ethical lines into unethical campaign tactics territory. In a word, it’s cheating. It is unfair, deceptive and dishonest, but mostly, it is irresponsible, because it opens the door to far worse things, like sending obnoxious plants carrying racist signs to the other party’s rallies, robocalls making outrageous statements on behalf of the opposition, or putting the Obamaphone lady in fake Obama ads.

It has been a despicable campaign, and this Democratic National Committee fake Romney website not only makes it worse, it creates a slippery slope that leads right to the sewer.

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Pointer: Althouse

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Filed under Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

A Trivial Attack Ad That Reveals Untrustworthiness

All is lost now…

The Obama campaign’s new creation is a 30-second spot that opens with shots of Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay and other business villains. “Criminals. Gluttons of greed,” intones the ad’s solemn narrator. “And the evil genius who towered over them? One man has the guts to speak his name.”  Then the ad cuts to Mitt Romney, pulling two words out of his debate comments (the words that came before them were, “I love..”), saying “Big Bird….Big Bird…Big Bird”

B.B. then appears in a montage of Sesame Street clips, as the narrator says,  “Yellow. A menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about. It’s Sesame Street. Mitt Romney, taking on our enemies no matter where they nest.”

It’s an epically stupid ad, if for no other reason that it recruits a non-profit organization’s symbol into a partisan political attack ad, without that organization’s permission. The Children’s Television Workshop has officially  “requested” that the Obama campaign remove it. The ad is far worse than that, however: Continue reading

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The Curse of Michael Steele: The Republican National Committee’s Shameful, Outrageous Supreme Court Lie

Michael Steele, when he was its Chair, brought Republican National Committee operations to a new ethical low that might have been favored by Michael Corleone. He never did anything this despicable, however, perhaps because he was replaced just as he was getting warmed up. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because even Steele knew that some political tactics were just too despicable to engage in.

In a web ad circulated this week designed to attack the health care reform law, the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation to the Supreme Court by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, defending the law’s constitutionality. In the ad, he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water. “Obamacare,” the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. “It’s a tough sell.”

The transcript and recordings, however, give a different impression. Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period and completed his thought — rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the ad. In short, the tape was edited by the RNC to misrepresent what occurred inside the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is a lie, and a particularly heinous one, even by political ad standards, which are a cut below Shamwow and the Fishin’ Magician. Even by Michael Steele standards—he who twice approved fundraising appeals disguised to look like U.S. Census documents. Continue reading

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