Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/23/2020: You Know, If People Keep Putting Impeachment Ethics Fouls In Front Of Me, I May Have To Comment On Them

Good Morning!

January 23 is a big day in ethics, good and bad. In 1964, poll taxes were finally banned via the 24th Amendment. In 1973, peace was finally declared in the Vietnam War (though it was hardly the “peace with honor” President Nixon called it.)In 1977, “Roots” debuted as a TV mini-series, helping to educate millions of Americans who knew very little about slavery.  In 1988, the Challenger exploded as a result of an engineering ethics breakdown. On this day in 1998, Bill Clinton looked America in the eye and denied having sex with Monica. Of course, he wasn’t lying, because he meant “sexual intercourse.” Sure. And finally, in 1989, Ted Bundy was electrocuted. Good.

1. Impeachment notes. I will not watch the trial, but these kinds of things that come to my attention cannot be ignored:

Instead, we are here today to consider a much more grave matter, and that is an attempt to use the powers of the presidency to cheat in an election. For precisely this reason, the President’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box—for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won. In corruptly using his office to gain a political advantage, in abusing the powers of that office in such a way as to jeopardize our national security and the integrity of our elections, in obstructing the investigation into his own wrongdoing, the President has shown that he believes that he is above the law and scornful of constraint.

Good Lord. Continue reading

Cultural And Societal Poison, Pumped Into Our National Bloodstream [Corrected]

When I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s, I was once dispatched to an Amway convention at the Atlanta Omni  to speak to the packed arena about carious Chamber citizen activism projects. Right before I was scheduled, the Amway “Diamond” hosting the thing (it was so strange and cult-like that “thing” is the best I can come up with this early in the morning) rallied the glassy-eyed crowd with a speech the likes of which I had never heard before. Among the crazy assertions he made to cheers and  cries of “Amen!” was that Jimmy Carter, then President, was card-carrying Communist and an agent of the Soviet Union, preparing as he spoke to turn over America to the Russians He also said, Joe McCarthy-like, that he had authentic documents to prove this.

As I sat in the wings, my mind raced to determine what I should do. I did not want to endorse or support what I had just heard in any way, but I also was on an assignment from my boss, who, I was and am quite sure, would have been just as horrified by what I had just heard as I was. Amway’s founders, Jay Van Andel and Rich De Vos were Chamber board members and big contributors to the Chamber’s PAC. Nothing I was promoting there was sinister. Still, I seriously considered leaving immediately, or even using my huge radio mic to denounce what I had just heard as outrageous lies, at least until I was brought down in a hail of bullets, or torn limb from limb by the infuriated mob.

In the end, I gave a shortened version on my planned speech—the crowd was very receptive—and got the hell out of there. When I returned to D.C., I announced that I would not appear at any more Amway conventions, or, for that matter, any John Birch Society meetings or KKK rallies, and my wishes were respected. I remained disturbed by the incident, and especially by the extremist bile that was apparently circulating quietly among the public that was barely hinted at in what was then naively called the “respectable media.”

Sunday, I read a column by Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author who writes for the New York Times. In a column called Iran Is Crushing Freedom One Country at a Time,”  this supposedly mainstream and eminently respectable pundit wrote, Continue reading

Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019

Be thankful tomorrow, everybody.

There’s always something…

1. On unethical misleading language, Part A: Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note: I was suddenly struck after reading one, two, three, four impeachment-related stories in a row in four separate news sources that they all used the phrase “dirt on Joe Biden.” Isn’t that strange? “Dirt” isn’t a description, it’s a characterization, and a deliberately  pejorative one that assumes that Biden is a victim of a dastardly action. It’s widespread use is one more smoking gun that demonstrates mainstream media bias aimed at smearing President Trump. The term “dirt” presupposes that if the President sought to persuade the Ukraine to aid the U.S. in an investigation, something it is obligated by treaty to do, it was only to assist his re-election chances. When the term “dirt” has been used in conjunction with a politition seeking damning information on Bill Clinton, either George Bush, or Trump himslef, it was always in the context of an election campaign. Few wrote that the Mueller investigation was a “dirt” seeking operation (though in truth it was). But it’s always “dirt on Joe Biden” that the Ukraine was allegedly asked/forced/extorted into looking for. When Jeffrey Epstein was being investigated, nobody said the FBI was seeking to smear him with “dirt,” because news sources accepted that an investigation was appropriate.

Yet there are many reasons and strong evidence suggesting that an investigation of Joe Biden’s alleged machinations to benefit his son by abusing his office and misusing his influence was (and is) also appropriate. The United States should not just shrug off corruption in its highest offices because a complicit individual is running for President, but that is the thrust of the current impeachment push by House Democrats. For the media to intentionally choose terminology—and slang, which is usually not in a newspaper style-book— to lead readers away from the argument that an investigation of Joe Biden was necessary and valid whether he was running for President or not shows a disturbing disinterest in fair reporting, and a preference for anti-Trump propaganda. Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory, Complete And Updated

Introduction

The “Big Lie” strategy of public opinion manipulation, most infamously championed by Adolf Hitler and his propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, has, in sinister fashion, become a routine and ubiquitous component of the Left’s efforts to remove President Donald J. Trump from office without having to defeat him at the polls. One of the most publicized Big Lies, that the President had “colluded” with the Russian government to “steal” the Presidential election from Hillary Clinton was recently exposed as such by the results of the Mueller investigation, and Democrats, with blazing speed, replaced it with another Big Lie that there is a “Constitutional crisis.” I could add that one to the list, I suppose, but the list of Big Lies is dauntingly long already, and this one is really just a hybrid of the Big Lies below.

Becoming addicted to relying on Big Lies as a political strategy is not the sign of ethical political parties, movements, or ideologies. Perhaps there is a useful distinction between Big Lies and “false narratives,” but I can’t define one. Both are intentional falsehoods designed to frame events in a confounding and deceptive manner, so public policy debates either begin with them as assumptions, thus warping the discussion, or they result in permanent bias, distrust and suspicion of the lie/narrative’s target. For simplicity’s sake, because I believe it is fair to do so, and also because “Big Lie” more accurately reflects just how unethical the tactic is, that is the term I will use.

Big Lie #1. “Trump is just a reality TV star.”

This is #1 because began at the very start of Trump’s candidacy. It’s pure deceit: technically accurate in part but completely misleading. Ronald Reagan was subjected to a similar Big Lie when Democrats strategically tried to denigrate his legitimacy by  referring to him as just an actor, conveniently ignoring the fact that he had served as Governor of the largest state in the nation for eight years, and had split his time between acting and politics for many years before that, gradually becoming more involved in politics and public policy. (Reagan once expressed faux puzzlement about the denigration of his acting background, saying that he thought acting was an invaluable skill in politics. He was right, of course.)

In Trump’s case, the disinformation was even more misleading, He was a successful international businessman and entrepreneur in real estate, hotels and casinos, and it was that experience, not his successful, late career foray into “The Apprentice” (as a branding exercise, and a brilliant one), that was the basis of his claim to the Presidency.

The “reality star” smear still appears in attack pieces, even though it makes even less sense for a man who has been President for three years. The tactic is ethically indefensibl . It is not only dishonest, intentionally distorting the President’s legitimate executive experience and success,  expertise and credentials, it is also an ad hominem attack. Reality TV is primarily consists of modern freak shows allowing viewers to look down on assorted lower class drunks, vulgarians, has-been, exhibitionists,  idiots and freaks. Class bigotry has always been a core part of the NeverTrump cabal, elitist snobs like Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney the Bushes, and George Will revealing that they would rather capitulate to the Leftist ideology they have spent their professional lives opposing than accept being on the same team as a common vulgarian like Donald Trump.

With all of this, the final irony is that “The Apprentice” wasn’t even a true reality show.  It was an elimination  contest, with Donald Trump as the arbiter.

This earliest of the Big Lies backfired on its creators.  Trump’s adversaries began to believe it themselves,causing them to under-estimate their adversary.  They realized, too late, that they weren’t running against poor Anna Nicole Smith, Kim Kardashian, or Scott Baio, but a tough, ruthless, confident street fighter with some impressive leadership and public speaking skills.

It is a mark of how flat the learning curve of the President’s adversaries is that they still think calling him a “reality TV star” shows anything but their own dishonesty and ignorance. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees”

Just to prove that reader commentary doesn’t have to be over 600 words (Technically known as “Alizia-length” on Ethics Alarms) to qualify as a Comment of The Day, here is Michael West’s COTD regarding the Governor of Wisconsin’s decree that the state Christmas tree is a “holiday tree” and his call for the ornaments traditionally submitted by Wisconsin children be “science-themed,” from the post, High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees”:

What part of Christmas do they hate? The individual and spontaneous demonstrations of generosity, spawned entirely from personal choice free from central coordination and bestowed as private individuals see fit free from oversight?

or

Christ?

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees

Yyyyup!

Sirius XM already has two Christmas stations operating, emulating Hallmark, which is showing nothing but cheesy Christmas movies starring B and C list actors (Candace Cameron Bure is one of the better known ones) all day long. Is there some significance to this rush to get to Christmas? Is it because everyone is so nasty and hostile that there is some kind of collective yearning for peace on earth and good will toward men, womyn and non-binary trans-pan-sexuals to arrive by cultural fiat? My wife is betting that the effort will just make everyone thoroughly sick of Christmas by the time we get there. Elmo learned, in a Sesame Street Christmas Special, that if every day is Christmas, nothing is.

But I digress…The reason I noted this was that I just heard Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-Up Christmas List” on the “Holiday Traditions” channel (I deemed it a better bet than The Doors, and “:Please Mister Custer”) and finally listened to the lyrics:

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Yeesh. Those are grown-up wishes? They are if “grown up” means ten-years-old.

Or you’re John Lennon.

I. One more ominous example of the Left channeling old fashioned totalitarianism..I knew that San Francisco was erecting a mural dedicated to the Climate Change Bullies’ own  Joan of Arc, creepy Greta Thunberg, but I didn’t realize how huge it was going to be. The conservative satire site the Babylon Bee joked that her eyes would be equipped with lasers to zap SUVs, at least I thought it was a joke. Legal Insurrection writes, 

Instead of focusing on issues of sanitation, job creation, or at least ensuring there are more high school students than drug addicts in the city, activists have chosen to honor Swedish “climate crisis” activist Greta Thunberg with a giant mural that will grace the skyline.

Andres “Cobre” Petreselli, an internationally renowned artist, is painting the activist teen with big blue eyes and a Mona Lisa smile.

The mural is still a work in progress, as Cobre is spending his days hoisted high up on a platform about 10 stories above Mason street, on the side of the Native Sons building near Union Square.

Thunberg is the 16-year old from Sweden who has inspired young people all over the world to take to the streets and let older people know they want climate change to be taken seriously.

“What I want from people is to realize have to do something for the world,” Cobre said. “Otherwise, it’s going to be the beginning of our extinction.”

Yikes. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/25/19: The Rotten Standards Edition

I feel like hearing my favorite hymn this morning.

1. How TV makes the public ignorant and unethical. On a 2008 “Law and Order” episode, “Knock Off,” a New York Assistant DA tells a lawyer that since his former client is dead, attorney client privilege no longer applies. “The privilege does not survive the client,” he says, authoritatively. This is exactly 180 degrees wrong. Privilege and client confidences do survive clients; lawyers are bound by them forever, with some rare exceptions.

The show had legal advisors.  There is no excuse for this. What were Law and Order’s standards? Would it deliberately misstate law and regulations just to accommodate the plot? Apparently so.

2. According to the New York Times, we’ve been mistaken. People don’t kill people, Guns kill people, apparently all by themselves. One of the infinite ways news organizations practice unethical and biased journalism is by falsely framing facts and issues to encourage a particular public perception. The “paper of record” just went for a new record in this event with a piece titled “One Handgun, 9 Murders: How American Firearms Cause Carnage Abroad.”Incredibly, the article personifies a gun:

She came to Jamaica from the United States about four years ago, sneaking in illegally, stowed away to avoid detection. Within a few short years, she became one of the nation’s most-wanted assassins. She preyed on the parish of Clarendon, carrying out nine confirmed kills, including a double homicide outside a bar, the killing of a father at a wake and the murder of a single mother of three. Her violence was indiscriminate: She shot and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl getting ready for church.

With few clues to identify her, the police named her Briana. They knew only her country of origin — the United States — where she had been virtually untraceable since 1991. She was a phantom, the eighth-most-wanted killer on an island with no shortage of murder, suffering one of the highest homicide rates in the world. And she was only one of thousands.

Briana, serial number 245PN70462, was a 9-millimeter Browning handgun.

The thrust of the rest of the article is that the terrible murder rate in Jamaica and other third-world counties is the fault of the U.S. for guaranteeing its citizens gun rights, and not the corruption, weak government, poverty and rotten cultures, not to mention the killers they produce, in those nations themselves. “Law enforcement officials, politicians and even gangsters on the street agree: It’s the abundance of guns, typically from the United States, that makes the country so deadly,” the article says. “And while the argument over gun control plays on a continual loop in the United States, Jamaicans say they are dying because of it — at a rate that is nine times the global average.”

That’s right: all those murderous Jamaicans would become as harmless as lambs if the United States would just get with the program.

This isn’t news reporting, it’s anti-gun propaganda. Continue reading