Eleven Ethics Observations On The Fox GOP Presidential Debate In South Carolina

The moderators...

The moderators…

1. Last night’s Fox News debate was the most ethical,  and generally the best of them all so far, in either party.

2. Rand Paul’s boycott of the so-called “undercard” debate reveals his arrogant nature. Chris Christie was demoted for one round, didn’t complain, participated, did well, and came back to the main event. Rand thinks he’s more qualified to be President  than Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Well, then, show us. Paul, in one complaint, proudly pointed to the fact that he’s the only GOP candidate who wants to legalize drugs and return the U.S. to isolationism as the world burns.  Yes, and this is why you’re not on the main stage, Senator. This is called “answering your own question.”

3. A group of Paul supporters started chanting his name at one point, causing Neil Cavuto to pause and look bemused. Oddly, Donald Trump did not command that their coats be confiscated.

4. Early on, both Bush and Marco Rubio pointed out—since the news media is still trying to soft-peddle it—that Hillary Clinton’s legal problems are serious, and that her lies about her e-mail and Benghazi should disqualify her for national leadership. Good. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce And Unethical Column Of The Month: Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

There are some positions in some controversies that I really cannot manage to respect, because no matter how much I try to understand the points of view, they seem so obviously wrong and ethically indefensible. On “The View” yesterday, for example, alleged comedian Joy Behar, in discussing the character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, stated without joking that she would vote for a proven rapist for President, as long as he or she was a Democrat. This is the kind of position I’m talking about.

Yesterday, the Hall of Fame voting results were announced. Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. were elected to the Hall by the baseball writers, and equally welcome to this ethicist-baseball fan was the fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both unrepentant steroid cheats, were not elected, and their still paltry vote totals suggest that they may never be. Yet several baseball pundits, reporting on the voting results, preceded this aspect of the news with “Unfortunately.”

I don’t understand that attitude toward cheating at all. I have written about as much about Barry Bonds as any ethics topic on Ethics, and  the case against him is air-tight, with the only defenses ever put forth being invalid rationalizations, easily rebutted. Nevertheless, otherwise intelligent people keep repeating them, hoping to outlast reason and reality by perseverance and repetition. (Sadly, this often works, as “77 cents on the dollar,” “Bush lied” and “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” tragically prove.) In the last 24 hours, I have heard Clemens and Bonds called “great players” so many times that my teeth have been ground down perceptibly. Cheaters are never great, as I explained in one of my favorite posts of 2015.

I was preparing to once again swat down the cultural poison being peddled by the Bonds and Clemens defenders when another of the issues that I believe has no respectable “other side” again raised its uglier than ugly head, so I changed course. That issue is illegal immigration, as in “immigration that occurs in direct violation of U.S. law, making it illegal.” Those who engage in illegal immigration are immigrants, and because their manner of immigration is illegal, they are illegal immigrants. Those who insist on calling them merely immigrants are lying; those who favor euphemisms like “undocumented workers” are engaging in intentional deceit. No, I have no respect for their rhetorical dishonesty–their smug and falsely sanctimonious rhetorical dishonesty—and it should not be tolerated by any U.S. citizen who wants transparent debate on a crucial national policy issue.

The ethics violator in the immediate case is serial offender Jorge Ramos, who uses his position as a broadcast journalist—unethically, since his duty is to report the news accurately, not to spout propaganda—to advocate  unrestricted immigration by Hispanics and Latinos into the United States. It is a logically, historically, demographically, economically, politically and legally irresponsible, outrageous position, but he managed to exceed previously established depths in promoting it by writing, in a column for Fusion, that GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are engaging in betrayal by “turning their backs on immigrants,” who, he says, just got here a little later than they did. Continue reading

Marco Rubio’s Unethical Concept Of “Doing Your Job”

Senator Marco Rubio at work in the Senate this week.

Senator Marco Rubio at work in the Senate this week.

It would be nice if the most viable alternatives to Donald Trump didn’t go out of their way to show that they aren’t qualified to be President of the United States either.

Marco Rubio, who was already under well-earned fire for saying that he hated being a Senator and  not bothering to vote on Senate bills, a rather substantial part of the job he was elected to do, thought about it, shrugged, and then became the only Senator who couldn’t be bothered to cast a vote on massive $1.8 trillion spending and tax package engineered by new House Speaker Paul Ryan. There’s just no excuse for this, and Rand Paul was not being unreasonable to suggest that if all Rubio wanted to do was run for President–and many have commented that unlike Trump, Cruz, Bush and the rest, he isn’t even doing that very hard—he should resign and let someone else represent the people of Florida.

“It’s a trillion dollars in spending and I think earlier this week he talked about having some activity and then wasn’t here,” Sen. Paul told POLITICO. “So yeah I think it’s important to show up to your job. I think that really he ought to resign or quit accepting his pay if he’s not going to come to work.”

How can anyone argue with that?

For his part, Rubio offered a weak, weak, weak excuse for his no-show, saying, “In essence, not voting for it, is a vote against it.” No, not voting is also not voting against it. As Thomas More pointed out before he lost his head, the law’s assumption is that “silence gives consent.” If Rubio is correct, then a bill could be voted down by more Senators abstaining than voting for a measure. Is he correct? No.

But then he doesn’t show up to work that often, so it’s understandable that he’s confused.

Rubio’s conduct demonstrates arrogance, lack of diligence, integrity and trustworthiness, laziness, and it doesn’t encourage me about his judgment, either.

Somewhere, Donald Trump is smiling.

10 Ethics Observations On The CNBC Republican Presidential Candidates Debate

cnbc_moderatorsnew

The transcipt is here.

1. Seldom are the  verdicts on a presidential debate as near unanimous as those on last night’s CNBC affair, in which Gov. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen.Ted Cruz, and Sen. Rand Paul took loaded questions from the CNBC panel of Becky Quick, John Harwood, and Carl Quintanilla. The questions and interjections from the moderators were so hostile, so disrespectful, so obviously concocted from a biased perspective, that the criticism came from all sides of the political spectrum.

Mostly the work of the CNBC trio was just unprofessional. The rules seemed arbitrary, the three talked over each other, they neither commanded nor deserved the participant’s cooperation. It was, correctly, called the smoking gun of news media bias, and a terrific honesty, fairness and integrity test for anyone watching. If you did and still say that it didn’t stench of a hostile exercise in media bias, then you lack all three. It was an embarrassment for CNBC and journalism.

2. Ironically, though the moderators were terrible, it arguably was the best debate yet for the Republicans. The hapless trio actually gave Sen. Ted Cruz a chance to show that you tangle with him at your peril, and to display his impressive mind and speaking ability. He said…

“Let me say something at the outset. The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions — Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues? The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every thought and question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and why? Let me be clear: The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense, than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. Nobody believes that the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary. The questions being asked shouldn’t be trying to get people to tear into each other, it should be what are your substantive solutions to people at home.”

Bingo. Cruz’s perfectly delivered reprimand is being sloughed off by many in the press as a repeat of Newt Gingrich’s trick, in the 2012 debates, of routinely beating up on moderators regardless of what they asked. This, in contrast, was fair, accurate, as perfectly delivered as it was impressive. I had followed the debate closely, and I wouldn’t have been able to run down the list of hostile questions like that without checking notes. Cruz is probably the smartest candidate in the race. Too bad he’s a rigid ideologue and a demagogue with the charisma of a chain saw.

3. CNN’s comment on the Cruz slap-down: “Here’s an attack all Republicans can love.” This means, I suppose, that only Republicans care about having a news media that isn’t trying to manipulate national elections. That conclusion should offend all Democrats—unless, of course, it is true. The desire to have an unbiased and competent news media should not be a partisan issue. Continue reading

Marco Rubio Better Have An Explanation For This Unethical Statement Other Than The Obvious Ones

Seen on Sen. Rubio's Senate office door...

Seen on Sen. Rubio’s Senate office door…

The obvious ones would be:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I lack integrity.
  • Because I’m as immature as I look.

I can’t make the Rubio quote making the rounds this morning an Ethics Alarms “Unethical Quote of the Month,” because it occurred, we are told by the Washington Post, on the evening of September 18 during the last Republican candidates’ debate. Why didn’t I pick up on Rubio’s statement then? I don’t know: no one else did either, based on a Google search.  I guess when there are 11 GOP candidates embarrassing themselves and their party seriatim (By the way, did you know that the WordPress spellcheck program says that the word I wanted to type there is “Maserati’?), it’s easy to miss a few outrageous statements.

Anyway,here is what Sen. Rubio said, however, after being chided by Donald Trump for missing so many Senate votes:

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection.”

The front page Washington Post story says that Rubio is frustrated with the unresponsiveness of the U.S. Senate to his attempted leadership:

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.

“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust…Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.

Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.

So Rubio is missing votes in the Senate because he hates his job?

That’s not exactly indicative of trustworthy character, not just for national leadership but for any position, including busboy. He ran for the job, got it, is being paid for it, and if it isn’t as much fun or as rewarding as he thought it would be, tough. Rubio still has an obligation to fulfill his duties as best he can. Who gets to goof off at work because he or she doesn’t like a job or is “frustrated”? Just Marco Rubio, it seems. Leaders have to be role-models and ethical exemplars. Rubio is modelling the “stop doing the job if you’re not good at it but still collect your paycheck” approach to the workplace. Who does he think he is?

Barack Obama? Continue reading

Entry For “Unethical Headline Of The Year”: Mother Jones

mother-jones-3

The real “Mother Jones”

A headline is a declarative statement, and ethical headlines are factual—not teases, not bait and switches, not lies, not deceit, but factual. Misleading headlines have become increasingly common on the web (click-bait, you know), and if this one from Mother Jones is any indication, the election season is going to be ugly as well as confusing.

The headline is “Republicans Hate Planned Parenthood but Want to Put One of Its Backers on the $10 Bill,” and it is quite an achievement: almost every word is a lie or intentionally misleading.

Let’s begin with “Republicans,” who, according to the headline, both “hate” Planned Parenthood and “want” to put a Planned Parenthood “backer” on the ten. “Republicans” implies all Republicans. Do all Republicans “hate” Planned Parenthood? Gee, I am married to a Republican who served on the board of the local  organization affiliate. There are many Republicans who oppose one of Planned Parenthood’s signature activities, abortion, but that does not mean all Republicans hate Planned Parenthood. Many headline writers, including the one that wrote this one, are lying, manipulative partisan hacks, but a headline that said, “Headline Writers Are Lying, Manipulative Partisan Hacks” would be unfair and misleading.

As for the second part of the sentence, which states Republicans want to put one of Planned Parenthood’s “backers” on the ten dollar bill, it is even more inaccurate regarding Republicans. The article under the headline refers only to the CNN candidate’s debate, and only to three of the eleven Republicans on the stage. Since eight of the Republicans did NOT choose to place the “backer’s” face on the ten, using the article’s own deceitful employment of the term “Republicans,” the article could also be titled “Republicans Hate Planned Parenthood And Don’t Want to Put One of Its Backers on the $10 Bill.” That, of course, wouldn’t convey the impression that Republicans have no integrity, are hypocritical and ignorant, which was really the purpose of the headline and the article. A headline, however, that is less accurate than the opposite of the headline is a really misleading headline. Res ipsa loquitor! Fairer and more honest still would have been a version of the headline that read “Three Republicans Want to Put One of Planned Parenthood’s Backers On The $10 Bill,” but even that would be misleading.

Oh, I’ve just gotten started, for this is some terrible headline. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The ‘So What?’ Follies”

My brilliant friend, lawyer/writer/actor/singer/dancer Loarraine McGee, scores with a  Comment of the Day that it probably takes a Broadway musicals buff, Stephen Sondheim worshiper, Mandy Patinkin lover or “Glee” fan to fully appreciate, a lyrical comment to the melody of Sondheim’s “Buddy’s Blues” from the second act of his great, troubling 1971 musical “Follies.”  Here is the song (Bronson Pinchot is no Mandy, but he’s OK), and then Lorraine’s Comment of the Day, to the today’s post “The “So What?’ Follies,” follows.

“Did you sayFollies”????”

I’ve got those

“Gotta keep the numbers up-Find something!-I can make it Neeeews” Blues!

That

“Long as there are photos I can make it seem important” feeling!

That

“If you’re slightly famous all you do is enough,
As long as there’s a talking head involved it’s good stuff,”
And “Bring the camera closer, gotta make the public buy this!” feeeeeeling!

Those

“Everything is ad sales so I gotta make the nonsense neeeews!” blues!