Ethics Clean-Up: Carson’s Negligence, Cruz’s Creepiness, And One Last Super Bowl Complaint

3 thingsBefore I run off to see a movie that will occupy my time while so many of my friends and colleagues disgrace themselves supporting brain damage for profit (here is Sally Jenkins on the NFL’s disgusting imitation of tobacco executives), there are three topics related to recent posts that bear mentioning.

  1. Ted Cruz’s Creepiness

Many Ted Cruz supporters were dismayed that even while flagging the biased and unfair tactics being used by the news media to discredit the most reviled of the seven GOP presidential contenders, I sympathized with those who find the Texas senator creepy. They don’t seem to understand that defense from a non-Cruz supporting ethicist is infinitely more credible and useful to their cause than support from a mouth-foaming conservative pundit, but never mind: nobody understands me, and it’s comforting to be attacked from the right for a change. However, I am thoroughly sick of people who don’t know what an ad hominem attack is accusing me of engaging in it.I ahve never used Ted Cruz’s creepiness or any of his other personality flaws to attack Cruz’s positions or political views. Doing that is an ad hominem attack. In the context of viability as a Presidential candidate, Cruz’s appearance, manner, and vibes, including what many see as creepiness, are relevant to their fitness to run for President, because fitness includes electability.

Thus it is relevant that Jeb Bush comes off as a bumbling weenie; that Chris Christie is fat, that Ben Carson looks and sounds like he is on barbiturates, that Marco Rubio is short, and that Kasich is dorky. Do you think it’s a coincidence that most Presidents are taller than average, and almost never bald? Charisma is rare, even in Presidents, but having it is a huge advantage (See: Trump, Donald) and having the opposite of charisma—Nixon, Dole, Gore, Ted Cruz—is a serious handicap. I’m really sorry that your hero seems creepy, Cruz fans, but it’s a fact, and it matters. Don’t shoot the messenger.

By the way, you will notice that Chris Christie is working at losing weight. Ted???? Continue reading

Considering The Fox Trump-less GOP Candidates Debate

Fox moderators

1. The run-up to the debate yesterday was embarrassing to the news media, especially CNN—even Fox did not obsess as much about the man who wouldn’t be on stage in Iowa as that shameless network. Not that Fox isn’t shameless: it’s greatest shame, Bill O’Reilly, once again showed himself to be both unethical and insufferable when he had Trump on his show and begged, pleaded, and cajoled the real estate mogul to reverse his decision. “Be the bigger man,” Bill said at one point. What the hell does that mean? Bigger than who? His employers—I don’t watch Fox live any more because they are still his employers—who properly refused to let him bully Megyn Kelly out of a moderator’s chair? Megyn Kelly? No, that can’t be it. Trump is a intellectual, moral and ethical midget with delusions of grandeur: O’Reilly was just feeding his ego. Then we learned, from Trump, that O’Reilly had enticed him on the air by promising not to talk about the debate boycott. O’Reilly admitted that was true, and then blathered facetiously about milkshakes, as if lying to a guest’s face was a big joke. O’Reilly is one of the deplorable people—most of his supporters, famous and not, are also in this category—who are so devoid of principles themselves that they make Donald Trump look admirable by comparison.

2. I wish I could say that Megyn Kelly was impeccable last night, but she wasn’t. She had a big chip on her shoulder, and mentioned Trump in the very first question, with a pre-composed, gaggy phrasing about “the  elephant not in the room”—lame witticisms were the theme of the night. That made the first question about her, and journalists are ethically obligated not to inject themselves into the story. No moderator should have mentioned Trump, but Kelly particularly. For the rest of the night she was aggressively adversarial, acting as if she was an undercover moderator from CNBC.

3. If there were any lingering doubts about what an arrogant jerk Ted Cruz is, his performance last night ought to have obliterated them. He reminds me of nothing so much as than the cocky high school nerd who thinks that because he’s elected class President, people really like him, but in truth he is socially hopeless. As a stage director and occasional humor writer, I cannot imagine a more pathetic attempt at a joke than his “I’m a maniac. Everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben Carson, you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump part out of the way (rim shot!) . . .” bit. His timing was terrible, and because the thing went on long after everyone knew what the punchline would be, nobody but a shill or an idiot would laugh at it. Cruz got even worse, talking past his limit, whining about the moderators siccing everyone else on him (though they were), trying to change the rules, and sounding like Bill Clinton as he tried to explain away what were his obvious flip-flops on immigration.

I noticed that as the camera panned the debaters dispersing after the debate, nobody spoke to Cruz or even looked at him, while the others were smiling and being collegial to one another. No wonder. 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

Ethics Observations On The Washington Post’s “Ted Cruz’s Kids Are Monkeys” Cartoon Uproar

ted-cruz-monkey-cartoon

Here’s what you need to know: Ted Cruz launched a political ad  that features the Texas Republican reading parody Christmas fare to his two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine, stuff like “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails.”  Washington Post political cartoonist Ann Telnaes reacted with the drawing above, titled “Ted Cruz uses his kids as political props.” The children are portrayed as monkeys. Telnaes clearly knew she was on thin ice, and accompanied the cartoon with a justification (now pulled: if anyone has the whole text, I’d like to see it) saying in part,

“But when a politician uses his children as political props, as Ted Cruz recently did in his Christmas parody video in which his eldest daughter read (with her father’s dramatic flourish) a passage of an edited Christmas classic, then I figure they are fair game.”

Note: the daughters are 7 and 4.

Cruz cried foul in a tweet, and the news media and internet was beginning to tilt hard against the Post, when editor Fred Hiatt pulled the cartoon, writing,

“It’s generally been the policy of our editorial section to leave children out of it. I failed to look at this cartoon before it was published. I understand why Ann thought an exception to the policy was warranted in this case, but I do not agree.”

And here we are.

Observations: Continue reading

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

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

Nine Ethics Takeaways From The Reaction To Donald Trump’s Anti-Illegal Immigrant Comments

Donald Trump thinks her life mattered more than cheap labor and Hispanic votes.

Donald Trump thinks her life should have  mattered more than cheap labor and Hispanic votes. Clearly, he must be punished…

1. Nobody can offer a reasonable justification for the U.S.’s tolerance of illegal immigration.

If anyone could, this would have been an excellent time to offer it. Nobody did this because there is no reasonable justification, just naked greed (big business), political expediency (politicians),  rationalizations (illegal immigration advocates) and sentimentality (everyone else).

2. Donald Trump, as awful as he is, has his uses.

Disgracefully, neither Presidential candidate spoke in any honest detail about the illegal immigration problem in 2012, talking safely and generally about “the need for immigration reform” instead, which is exactly as useful as advocating deficit reform, drug policy reforms and tax reforms, which is to say useless—but sufficient to keep lazy voters nodding like bobbleheads. The fact is that illegal immigration is an existential problem for the country as it can be for any nation, and responsible leaders and aspiring leaders have an obligation to deal with it seriously, openly and directly. They don’t. Thus it is left to buffoons and irresponsible leaders like Donald Trump to drop the stink-bombs they do. Truth from any source is still better than endless lies and obfuscation.

3. The mainstream news media is as biased, incompetent and dishonest on this issue as any other, and arguably more so.

Literally all the mainstream coverage of the organized backlash to Trump’s comments has been based on various critics’ expressions of horror and ridicule at Trump’s words. Virtually none has covered the factual basis for his statement, which is considerable. Most Americans know Trump is a jerk. Do they know that opposition to illegal immigration has nothing to do with racism or opposition to immigration itself? Do they know the corrupt and cynical motivations that placed the United States in this dilemma? No, the news media is only interested in identifying bad guys (Trump, and anyone who doesn’t regard illegal border crossers as heroes) and good guys (those compassionate, rule of law-rejecting pols and advocates who want U.S. immigration restrictions to be a dead letter).  The news media is really one of the bad guys. At this point, for example, the only major news outlet that careful and accurately distinguishes between illegal immigration and immigration is Fox News. For the rest, the conflation of the two is part of a grand strategy of misdirection.

4. The GOP Presidential candidates are cowards, with exception of Senator Ted Cruz.

Only Cruz has had the integrity to praise Trump for raising the issue, and still properly express reservations about his method of doing it. The rest have all expressed politically correct tut-tutting at Trump’s generally accurate statement that the U.S.’s failure to protect its southern border is a disgrace, that Mexico is benefiting by allowing its poorest, most desperate and criminal population to become our problem, and that many of the illegal immigrants bring crime with them. [Read the comments on Mediate regarding Cruz’s statements on Trump. They almost entirely consist of ad hominem insults (whatever he may be, Ted Cruz is no idiot), birther slurs (a man born to an American citizen visiting in Canada is a “natural born” U.S. citizen, you dolts), and statements based on the assumption that letting illegals just waltz across our borders is good policy, which, of course, it is anything but.]

5. The feckless Republicans pols are ducking because they are desperately afraid of alienating Hispanic-American voters, so they jettison their integrity, honesty, and duty as leaders and Americans.

Principled Republicans should trust Hispanic-Americans to have the same responsible concerns for the best interests of their nation as any other informed citizens, and appeal to them as the law-abiding patriots they are to oppose a disastrous open border policy that rewards illegal conduct.

6. Democrats and progressives increasingly rely on using various forms of coercion to stifle debate rather than to engage it.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is reviewing Trumps contract’s with the city to see if he can punish Trump for daring to suggest that we have an illegal Mexican immigrant problem. He said:

“We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city. Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sister make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”

Boy, the left really, really hates free speech, doesn’t it?  Government official are forbidden from declaring what kind of  speech does or does not have a “place” in any jurisdiction in the United States, but the Democrats keep trying to asert otherwise, on the theory that if they say it often enough, citizens will acccept it. Even though Trump was speaking as a public citizen and a candidate for office, De Blasio thinks it is appropriate for the city government to take punitive action against him for his opinion. This is the Chick-fil-A’ fiasco all over again, and also resembles the Senate Democrats’ strong-arm attack on the Washington Redskins.

It is beginning to look like a vote for Democrats is a vote against the principles of freedom of thought, discourse, dissent and speech. I would assume this would trouble—liberals. Or have they already been corrupted beyond repair?

7. Trump is quite correct to point to that the recent random killing of 31-year-old Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported five times, as a perfect example of what he was talking about.

ICE has explained it turned Lopez-Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities on March 26 for an outstanding drug warrant, and requested an immigration detainer. But Nancy Pelosi’s constituents, mindless supporters of illegal immigration and pro-drugs as well, believe that violates Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, so they allowed one of Mexico’s best to stay around long enough to kill an innocent white women.

Thank God for that, since only black lives matter. A black victim might have caused the city’s leftists to have a cognitive dissonance meltdown.

The news media is soft-peddling the story as much as it can—CNN calls the alleged killer “undocumented,” as if he misplaced his papers somewhere, another now accepted journalistic deceit—because the narrative is that all illegal immigrants are heroic parents trying to gain a better future for their offspring.  It should be used by Republicans as an effective Willy Horton-style attack on any Democratic Presidential candidate advocating continued border control abdication. The message: Your “immigration reforms” policy killed this woman. Go ahead: deny it.

8. The double standard being employed by the left and a news media in their response to the Charleston church shooting by Dylan Roof and Steinle’s murder is stunning.

Roof used a gun and liked Confederate flags, though there is no evidence that either different gun laws or the absence of the flag would have stopped his rampage. Never mind: the President used the tragedy to rev up the anti-Second Amendment zealots, and an anti-Confederate flag mania has somehow extended to desecrations of statues of Christopher Columbus. Kate Steinle is dead as a direct and undeniable result of the nation’s negligent enforcement of immigration laws championed by the same people who want to tear down statutes of Robert E. Lee, but to suggest that more stringent enforcement is necessary is “racist.”

9. Trump is an idiot.

If he is going to raise important issues as a “straight-talker.’ he is obligated not to play directly into the pro-illegal immigration mob’s strategy of attacking the messenger rather than rebutting the message. He has an obligation to be clear, and not so inflammatory that real content of his message is lost. He just can’t do it.