Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Martina Navratilova”


Chris Marschner has weighed in with an exposition on social media’s impact on public opinion and society, sparked by the post here about a tennis icon’s claim that other sports stars had an obligation to use their fame to push their own often half-baked opinions on their fans.

Here is his Comment of the Day on “Unethical Quote of the Day: Martina Navratilova”:

…Social media is built on the construct of group think. That is why I think it is more dangerous than anything Trump or Clinton may do. The medium is the message.

It is not surprising that every platform uses similar concepts such “followers”. The psychology is that the larger the number of followers the higher the relative credibility. Facebook started this charade by placing a “Friends” counter on the person’s time line. “Likes” are another tool for the message makers. “Likes” are a reinforcement mechanism. Just click the thumbs up sign to validate the idea- don’t add anything- just positively reinforce the thinking. Ever wonder why there is not a dislike icon – thumbs down? Yes there is a means to comment but be prepared to have many weigh in against you if you challenge the group think. Continue reading

Exploring Double Standards In The 2016 Election, A Hypothetical Thought Experiment For Ethics Alarms Readers


While the news media has been almost totally focused on Donald Trump’s misogyny, alreday well-established long  but somehow decisively important once it was in full display from the video of a private exchange from 11 years ago, revelations about his opponent’s character and modes of operation have also been trickling out into view, and receiving far less attention from either journalists or voters.

They have also exposed many of Clinton’s lies. For example, after posturing about Trump’s birtherism and claiming that his defense that Clinton led the way in 2008 with planting conspiracy theories to otherize Obama, this  ugly email, surfaced from the 2008 Clinton campaign, including John Podesta and Paul Begala on the distribution list. It strongly suggest that an attack on Obama’s religion and citizenship was part of the strategy to defeat him, as well as using his alleged use of illegal drugs and support for gay adoption as ammunition.

The 2013 Goldman-Sachs speeches that Clinton received $675,000 to give to the investment companies have turned up, thanks to Wikileaks. More revealed files from the FBI have cast suspicion on the process whereby Clinton was cleared of criminal misconduct in her irregular handling of official e-mails.

Other documents have indicated that the federal government, “supported by tax dollars,” as the Wall Street Journal puts it, was working as an extension of the Clinton campaign. The State Department seems to have coordinated with her staff to blunt the email scandal, and the Justice Department kept her team informed about developments in the court case.

Clinton’s State Department, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show, also facilitated Clinton’s use of her official influence to provide special favors to Clinton Foundation donors. For example, in one  series of 2010 emails, a senior aide to Hillary  Clinton asked a foundation official to let her know which groups offering assistance with the Haitian earthquake relief were “FOB” (Friends of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).

The leaks show “that the press is in Mrs. Clinton’s pocket,” writes Kimberly Strassle at the WSJ.  Donna Brazile, now DNC chair, sent the exact wording of a CNN town hall question to Hillary ahead of a scheduled debate.  Other journalists gave the Clinton campaign the power to veto which quotes were used from interviews, helped facilitate press events, and offered advice to her campaign.

Less surprising but arguably more damaging if the average voter knew, the various leaks, e-mails and speeches reveal a candidate with little integrity and few core principles, an opportunistic policy Janus who constantly changes her position to maximize political gain. She told an audience that she believes in giving the voters one position while holding different ones, and has taken such dual positions on banks; international policies, trade, illegal immigration, energy, and more. Though many of the leaked e-mails reveal views of her staff that are only attributed to Hillary, it is likely that the voluminous discussions among Clinton’s advisors about  what false rhetoric she should use to recruit “the Red Army,” also called “the base of the Democratic Party.” are not inconsistent with her own attitudes.

All of this, and more is on the way, does not show an individual with Donald Trump’s repulsive narcissism and contempt for a full half of the world’s population, but does show Clinton to be, like Trump, untrustworthy, dishonest, corrupt, ruthless, and shameless. Unlike Trump, it reveals an individual addicted to showing the public a completely different political being than she really is.

Strassle concludes her summary by saying that “Voters might not know any of this, because while both presidential candidates have plenty to answer for, the press has focused solely on taking out Mr. Trump. And the press is doing a diligent job of it.”

So I wonder…what if, rather than requiring explanation, analysis, extrapolation, and connecting the dots, and without being marred by over-reaching and biased exaggerations of already damaging evidence by right-wing, Hillary-hating zealots, visual and audible smoking gun proof of Clinton’s lies, false poses and corruption was exposed to the nation?

I now present this hypothetical as a thought experiment: Continue reading

KABOOM! or Unethical Quote of The Month? You Decide…I Can’t, Because My Head Just Exploded All Over The Christmas Tree


“I actually think that it’s probably in its day-to-day interactions less racially divided.”

—President Obama on National Public Radio, giving his assessment of race relations in the U.S. today compared to when he was elected in 2008.

It’s kind of pretty, really.

That explosion (see Kaboom!) was based—I’m guessing now, since I don’t control when my brain blows—-on my shock that the President actually could be President and believe that, as well as not be aware how deluded he appears to assert such something so contrary to evident reality. Is he really that estranged from what is happening in the country he leads? Frightening. Is he really incapable of comprehending the single biggest, most damaging, most unexpected and most dangerous failing of his entire administration? Pathetic. Does he not watch TV? Read blogs? Does he exist in a separate, narcissist parallel reality where everything is as he wills it to be? Wow.

I know that the networks he watches and the newspapers he reads didn’t report them for the most part, but every poll shows that the public overwhelmingly believes that race relations have worsened. You can dispute the value and accuracy of polls with considerable justification, but these are the kinds of polls most likely to be accurate. How plausible is it that race relations, defined as how the races feel about each other and how they are getting along, could improve with the public believing they have worsened? Here’s polls from Pew, Gallup (“The percentage of Americans naming “race relations” or “racism” as the most important problem in the U.S. has climbed dramatically to 13%, the highest figure Gallup has recorded since a finding of 15% in 1992, in the midst of the Rodney King verdict.”), NBC, IDB ( “By an almost 3-1 margin, Americans say race relations have worsened under the man who was supposed to usher in a golden era of “post-racial” relations.”), Bloomberg, and Politico, and there are many others, all with the same message. Moreover, all of them were taken before the ‘killer racist cops ‘ campaign by Sharpton  and his cohorts culminated in the assassination of two police officers by a deranged African American seeking to take “two of theirs for one of ours.” Let’s see a show of hands: how many think race relations have improved in the last two weeks?

Other than the President, that is. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida

Why can't a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Why can’t a serial rapist be funny and cute?

Frequent commenter aaronpaschal weighed in with this rich post on the Bill Cosby matter. I will hold my response to the end, because there is much to consider here, and much I disagree with. However, aaron has articulated well the thoughts many are having about the Cos, and I am grateful for the exposition. Here is his Comment of the Day regarding the post, On Cosby, Clinton, And An Ethics Dunce Convention In Melbourne, Florida.

I don’t know if I fully believe the allegations. I don’t know if the girls and women involved should bear some responsibility for choosing to become impaired. I don’t know if Cosby’s career will long survive this uproar – Netflix is dropping all of Cosby’s works in response, and that’ll cost someone a pretty penny.

But I do know that I don’t feel completely at ease with the notion that he faces ruin. That there is no evidence, no words, nothing he could present in his own defense. No courtroom, no trial, no lawyers. That the man who allegedly committed these acts did so a lifetime ago. I’ll admit that the women who have come out don’t have much tangibly to gain – but I also know all too well that revenge, hatred, defending existent lies, even merely time in the spotlight can be powerful motivators for some people (bearing in mind that pursuing justice, speaking the truth, and protecting the innocent are well – it could be any of them, all of them, or more.) There must, however, be SOME motive somewhere, or they would not be stepping forward – if there was truly nothing to gain.

But I do know that his works have always made me laugh, and I will appreciate them for years to come. I know I’ve heard wisdom from him, and these crimes don’t change the wisdom, either. I might not choose to leave my daughter alone with him. And I know that the court of public opinion makes very few wise choices, it is a terrible thing to be tried by it, guilty or innocent, and true justice is rarely found there.

Continue reading

Comment Of The Day #2: “Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As ‘The Worst President Since World War II’”

Film-ProjectorI had barely posted the first Comment of the Day on the recent post regarding the explosive poll showing President Obama sinking below all previous post-war Chief Executives in the public’s estimation, when another excellent deserving one, by Mark, arrived.

Mark doesn’t comment often, but when he does, his posts are always eloquent and thoughtful. Here is his Comment of the Day on the essay, Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As “The Worst President Since World War II”.

I don’t go all the way with you on this one, Jack, but certainly a part of the way. A few years ago I learned about projections – how we project what we want/see/expect onto other people even when, or especially when, the projection has nothing to do with who they really are, and the consequence of not seeing clearly the person in front of us. If nothing else, President Obama has been a victim of that idea.

In 2008, he was a blank screen onto which people projected what they wanted to see after the Bush years and a rapidly tanking economy. He was HOPE, CHANGE, and perhaps worse, we ennobled him with the idea that he was something other than a standard-issue Washington politician. The fact that he was African American only amplified the idea of his actually making a difference in Washington because he was, indeed, so different from any other candidate we had seen since Kennedy and his Roman Catholicism. I think our ultimate projection might have been that if we could do this, elect a black man, then we would bring change to the country simply by “curing” the centuries-old race issues in the US or making a good run at it. Projections are powerful and in the hands of a collective even more so. After a time during the 2008 election, it didn’t matter what he said or did, he WAS hope and change, not a candidate.

And, in the absolute cynicism of American politics, all the pollsters, pundits, and creatures of his campaign knew and exploited this (and they’ll do it again for someone else come 2016).

In the moment he was elected, as an African American, I felt something incredible – a man like me in the White House, a supreme victory after slavery, Jim Crow, and the spilled blood of Till and King. I also felt an unease – could he govern? We knew he could run a crackerjack campaign, but could he replicate that kind of success from the Oval Office? In 2008, I figured only time would tell and to an extent it has. He was neither an outsider to Washington nor a maverick, both projections, not to mention a relative lack of experience compared to other presidents. I will say – and I know you agree – that he did not come to Washington to cause harm, but with a deep love for the country and an expectation that he could do what he had intended and promised. Perhaps those were his own projections upon a system that had no intention of bearing them out. I don’t know.

Like I said – I won’t go all the way with you on this and the points of disagreement are about perception of events and we each have our own. I will not say, either, that he is the worse president since WWII – that is, again, a matter of perception. Where we absolutely agree is a share of this lies with the American people who have not figured out how to counter systems – both political and governmental – that are increasingly cynical, unethical, and devoid of any sense of the common good for our nation. “Have you no sense of decency, Sir?” is truer today than it was in 1954 and should be asked of every politician in Washington from the President on down. In the last eight years everybody of every political stripe has some blood on their hands for this mess. We lay it at his feet because – unfortunately for him – the buck does stop there.

So now we wait for the curtains to part on another blank screen onto which we’ll project our hope for a country that is different from the one we’re living in now. We’ll hear from sincere, well meaning candidates who will tell us what we want to hear rather than what is true and doable, and we’ll buy it. The first woman in the White House is ripe for that, as is the first Hispanic, or a TRUE American Tea Party candidate. They’ll all present themselves and we’ll beam on.

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Comment of the Day: “Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As ‘The Worst President Since World War II'”

ObamaVeteran Ethics Alarms commenter Glenn Logan scores his fourth Comment of the Day, but his first in two years. (He’s been busy.) Here are Glenn’s observations on the recent post regarding a poll showing widespread public disappointment in President Obama’s performance, and the conservative gloating about it in some quarters. The post was Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As “The Worst President Since World War II”

Two things strike me about this:

1. The problem is, we put too much on Obama’s shoulders. We (collectively) asked him to change the culture of Washington in return for our vote. Failing to do that was inevitable, and our seeing is as his personal failure is more a reflection of our own incompetence as voters (we are the only ones who can change Washington) and the imputation of superhuman status to an iconic (i.e. “post-racial” president) than Obama’s.

2. There is a heck of a gap between failure and excellence. The problem is, Obama’s hubris, which is at the root of all his problems, has produced in his presidency exactly what it usually produces in other walks of life: Misjudgment, tone-deaf partisanship, arrogant dissimulation, and a complete failure to lead. This is objectively where he went wrong, rather than merely running afoul of unfairly elevated expectations and partisan infighting.

We asked Obama to do what we are charged with doing. That was our failure. President Obama failed to execute his office with even minimal competence, and then blamed everyone but himself. Not only that, the American people invested so much in the idea of “change” that his allies felt could not afford even a semblance of disagreement.

So collectively, they did what people almost always do in that situation — circled the wagons and acted like the failure was success in hopes of convincing as many people as possible. They are still certain (because they think they can’t afford not to be) that Obama’s presidency is fully dressed, despite the evidence of their own eyes.

It’s always bad for us when our leaders fail, and schadenfreude is an inevitable, if unfortunate reaction. The irony of celebrating failure and the concomitant lessening of our country is tragic comedy worthy of Shakespeare.

Nobody Should Be Cheering The Poll Showing President Obama As Regarded As “The Worst President Since World War II”

News Item:

“In a new Quinnipiac University Poll, 33% named Barack Obama the worst president since World War II. Only 8% named Obama as the best president.”


1. The conservative blogosphere, and I assume conservative radio and Fox News, are crowing about this. That’s revolting. No citizen or patriot should rejoice at a failed Presidency, which this one surely is.

2.The United States desperately needed–and needs—a uniting, skilled, strong and non-ideological leader with the ability to solve problems while maintaining a positive image of his (or her) iconic office and the United States itself.  That a President who promised so much and created such hope has proven to be none of these is no less than a tragedy, and quite possibly a catastrophe.

3. Polls aren’t always meaningless. This one is important, I think, because it shows that the American people are paying attention, and that the incredible covering, bolstering, spinning and enabling efforts by the mainstream media to prop up President Obama and blame others for his inadequacies have failed. This is good news.

4. The bad news, in addition to what I already mentioned above is… Continue reading

Well, Let’s Kill All The Lawyers, Then!

One reason why democracy doesn’t seem to be working very well is that the public is becoming increasingly ignorant about what makes it work at all. Evidence of this trend comes by way of a provocative study by the Pew Research Center, which polled the public regarding which professions it believes contribute the most to society.

The results can be found in this press release, this summary, and this article in The Careerist, but here is a snapshot:

Worth study

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Supreme Court Integrity and the Useless Times-CBS Poll

If you dislike these people,but haven’t read their actual opinions, don’t know their names and are basing your opinion on what other people say, I don’t care what you think, and neither should anyone else.

I suppose there may be could be some uses for the recent New York Times-CBS poll measuring public attitudes about the Supreme Court. It could be used to launch, for example, a discussion about how little the public understands about the Court and how it operates. It might prompt a discussion about the recklessness of the two parties, which regularly attack the integrity of the Court every time it arrives at a decision that one of them doesn’t like. It might even prompt a refresher course on what went on during the 2000 Florida vote recount, and why that case required the Supreme Court to play a unique role that had nothing to do with helping George Bush “steal the election.” All of these would require an unformed and responsible newsmedia. however, so what the poll is prompting instead  misleading debates among talking heads about what the Court needs to do differently.

The Supreme Court needs to do nothing at all differently. Continue reading

Gallup’s Trust Survey: Congress in Freefall

Gallup’s just released annual survey of public attitudes toward various professions held few surprises this year. As has been the case for over a decade,nurses and pharmacists topped the list as the  professions regarded as the most honest and ethical. I find the presence of high school teachers fourth (ahead of police officers)  a triumph of public relations, nostalgia and wishful thinking, but the other top rated professions were predictable. In general, the professions we are forced to depend upon the most are the ones we trust the most—because we have little choice. The ones we trust the least tend to be those with whom we can be in conflict with or see as having differing interests from our own. Doctors are always going to rank higher than lawyers, for example, because there are no doctors trying to make us sick.

Of the 21 professions in the survey, only seven—including funeral directors!—had positive numbers, meaning that more people regarded them as ethical than unethical. The seriously distrusted professions, with a percentage of very low ratings significantly higher than the proportion of very high ratings, begins with lawyers, business executives, union leaders, stock brokers, and advertising execs in order of trustworthiness; bankers, interestingly, avoided this group and had about as many supporters as detractors. But the bottom four is where the really dishonest professionals dwell, according to the poll. With single digit positive ratings compared to negative ratings of  more than 50% are telemarketers, car salesmen, lobbyists, and at the very bottom, Congress, with 64% of the public regarding the institution as dishonest and unethical. That, Gallup says, is not only the lowest rating for Congress since the survey has been taken; it is the worst rating for any profession.

That Congress has sunk so far is not a surprise. It is just depressing.

Here are the results: