Tag Archives: Sweden

Comment Of The Day: “The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet”

sailfishReader Greg boldly ventures into the perilous waters of distinguishing among what the news media calls lies, especially when they involve President Trump. His piece is also a fortuitous companion to this post, which I was completing when his appeared.

Here is Greg’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet”:

The media coverage of “Donald Trump’s lies,” and most recently of the stupid Sweden controversy, conflates several different categories of statements and treats them all as being equally serious. For example, let’s suppose Trump tells this story at one of his rallies:

“I was out on the boat – last week with Bill Clinton – just off the coast a few miles away from Mar a Lago – one of the great resorts of the world, by the way — and pulled in a 9-foot sailfish, the biggest sailfish ever caught. The biggest in those waters. It was a hell of a fight – gigantic fish almost pulled me overboard, one of the hands grabbed me and saved me really, kept me from going in – (Trump mimes himself almost falling into the water and being pulled back, to comic effect) – a Cuban immigrant by the way, a legal one and America can be proud of him.”

And let’s suppose that the next day the New York Times prints a front page story hysterically denouncing this story as a lie. When we read the article, we may find out that Trump’s story was any of the following:

1. An outright lie: Trump has never caught a sailfish in his life.

2. An exaggeration to make Trump look better: The exaggeration may be relatively slight (the sailfish wasn’t 9 feet long; it was 8 feet, which is still an awfully big fish) or gross (it was a 4-foot sailfish, which is puny).

3. An enhancement to make the story more entertaining: Trump is actually a terrific fisherman. He didn’t need any help and never came close to falling into the water.

4. A statement that Trump made without regard to its truth or falsity: The hand has a Hispanic accent but Trump has no idea whether he is a Cuban immigrant or not. He added that part to the story because it supports one of his pet policy positions. Actually, the hand is an American citizen born in Miami, and he is of Guatemalan ancestry, not Cuban.

5. An ignorant, lazy but honest error: The captain flattered Trump by telling him that his sailfish was the biggest ever caught in those waters, and Trump never bothered to look up the facts in a reputable reference source. Actually Trump’s fish was a full foot short of the record.

6. Mis-remembered: The way he remembers it, he was fishing off Mar a Lago that day, but actually he was 1,000 miles away, off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

7. True, but Trump’s thoughts are so much faster than his tongue and his syntax is so garbled that the story gives a false impression: Trump actually caught the fish 5 years ago while fishing with Tiger Woods. Trump didn’t mean he caught the fish with Bill Clinton last week. He meant that he just now had a fleeting thought about an interview with Bill Clinton that he saw last week on TV, which reminds him that he once read in the New York Post that Clinton had gone deep-sea fishing with Ron Burkle, which reminds him of his own triumph with the sailfish. As Trump so often does, he was sharing his train of thought, in a disjointed way, with his audience. The surprising thing is that, often, his gestures and tone of voice convey his meaning clearly to his friendly audience, even though it is completely lost on a hostile press and in transcripts.

8. Either true or false, depending on your point of view: Trump was actually fishing near the Bahamas, 100 miles away from Mar a Lago, which he considers pretty close but the Times considers pretty far. The Times accuses Trump of lying in order to attract fishermen to his resort at Mar a Lago and boost his own profits.

9. True, but said in a context that creates an unfortunate impression, at least in the mind of a hostile press: After the sailfish story, Trump segues into a story about the movie, Jaws, where the protagonist shot a great white shark with a high-powered rifle (“a great, great thing,” says Trump, “and there are a lot of good people in this country – second amendment, NRA – Obama and Clinton wouldn’t let you shoot a shark like that — but now that I’m president you and good Americans like you will have the freedom to do that”), which leads the Times to accuse Trump of shooting sailfish and supporting people who shoot endangered great white sharks and other species of endangered fish and possibly having shot endangered fish himself and maybe even having shot endangered whales and dolphins.

10. True in every detail, but the Times is calling it a lie anyway: The Times says the story creates the false impression that the fishing is good near Mar a Lago, which Trump is implying in order to boost profits from his resort, but the truth is that big sailfish over 7 feet long are rare in those waters and Trump’s record-setting catch was a fluke. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

From The Ethics Alarms “Blathering Makes You Incoherent So That Those Who Bias Has Made Stupid Think You Are Stupid, Making Them Look Stupid” Files: The Sweden Affair

Here is something apparently nobody noticed from the past two years: Donald Trump doesn’t speak in linear fashion, use words with precision, or think about what he’s saying until it has already left his mouth. Did you not know that? I’ve been complaining about it here for, oh, about five years. (That YouTube video above is Exhibit A) Yet every time he says something garbled and seemingly confused,  journalists and bloggers instantly take what he said literally, and go on a spree. Now, when most politicians say something that makes no sense, as when President Obama’s tongue slipped and he said there were 57 states or Joe Biden, who makes head-scratching comments almost every day, announced at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner on March 17, 2010, “Barack Obama is the first African-American in the history of the United States of America!” ( Joe forgot that key word, “President”)  it prompts a brief mention, if at all. With politicians whom the news media has decided to take down, however, like Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, and now the President, there is no such break. Of course these conservative fools meant what they said to express the most senseless thought imaginable.

Now Trump is President, so he is obliged to choose his words especially carefully, and be clear in his meaning. Well, he can’t. He’s communicated in this slovenly, stream-of-consciousness word cloud all his life, and its made him rich, famous, and President. He’s not going to stop. Now, by all means criticize him for this, but not for alleged statements that are bad guesses at what he might be trying to say.

This brings us to The Sweden Affair. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

“Start The Car!” Ethics

“Start the car!” shouts the woman in a ubiquitous IKEA TV commercial for its “Winter Sale.” She has received her receipt, and  the total is so low that she assumes there has been a mistake.  She quickly exits the store with bags of purchases, and while running calls to her husband in the car outside so he will pick her up and hit the gas before someone comes to reclaim the merchandise or demand more payment. As they drive away with what she thinks are her ill-gotten gains, she lets out a whoop of triumph.

The narration explains that IKEA’s sale prices are so low, this how you will feel.

The commercial is unethical. It trivializes and normalizes theft, and rejects the ethical values of honesty, integrity and responsibility. Apparently the ad has been running internationally for a long time (it only just started showing up in my region) and is very popular. Writes one industry commentator, “People relate to the message because at one point or another while shopping we’ve all had that feeling that we just got away with something.”

Really? I haven’t. My father didn’t either (my mom was another story.) I’ve told waitresses and clerks that they undercharged me. I’ve returned excessive change. I’ve handed back money to tellers when two bills stuck together. You don’t? What the hell’s the matter with you? Were you raised by Fagin?

Though the commercial was a hit and positively accepted in all of the nations where it was viewed, there is hope:  it also received many negative comments and complaints. An Advertising Standards Board—I cannot for the life of me find out which; the U.S. has no such board. I’m guessing Sweden— thus considered whether this advertisement breached   its Advertisers Code of Ethics.

The breach would be that the commercial isn’t socially responsible, since it represents taking merchandise from a store that hasn’t been fully paid for as normal and acceptable conduct. The Board viewed the advertisement in light of the complaints and decided that the ad was ethically inoffensive.

Guess why.

No, go ahead, guess.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Anyone Who Tries To Use A 43 Year Old Essay To Smear Bernie Sanders Is An Unethical Jerk, And You Can Tell Them I Said So

Come to think of it, Gene's poetry was as bad as Bernie's porn,

Come to think of it, Gene’s poetry was as bad as Bernie’s porn,

It is all Richard Nixon-style smearing… designed for mouth-breathing audiences, bottom-of-the-barrel, unfair, irrelevant, democracy-polluting garbage that has no more of a legitimate place in campaigns than surreptitiously commandeered laptop camera photographs of the candidates naked. To say such miserable archeological dirt-digging violates the Golden Rule is giving it too much prestige; it violates the Brass Rule, the Tin Rule, and the Cheap Styrofoam Rule. It is the kind of revelation that thrills the jerks who applauded smut-merchant Larry Flynt when he offered a bounty for proof of adulterous affairs in the distant pasts of Republican members of Congress, to support the Lanny Davis “Everybody does it” defense of Bill Clinton’s Monica cover-up.

Mitt Romney was a bully in prep school, George Allen used the word “nigger” when he was a teenager, Jim Webb had sexy passages in his novels, Hillary Clinton’s honors thesis praised Saul Alinsky, Bill Clinton maneuvered to avoid serving in Vietnam, Rick Perry used to go hunting at a lodge rented by his father that was once called “Niggerhead” and a rock with the name on it was still visible even though it was painted over…yes, the Washington Post even gave a front page story to that last one. Ugh, yuck, pooie, gag, ichhhhhhh, ew.

So now we have learned that Bernie Sanders, who is 74 years old, wrote an essay about rape fantasies in 1972, when he was 31 years old. Just as he’s too old (realistically)  to be elected President now, he was too young to be elected President then. There’s a reason for that: the Founders believed that a man isn’t mature or experienced enough to be trusted with the job until he is at least 35. The most relevant aspect of Senator Sanders’ creative writing experiment might be that it suggests that Jimmy Madison and the gang were, as usual, right. Otherwise, so what? 43 years ago, I mistreated a wonderful, sweet girl I was dating, and I’m sure she hates me to this day. If my son behaved like I did, I’d ream him out. But that distant incident no more represents who I am today than my exploits on my high school tennis team. Sanders’ essay was written so long ago, it is far beyond the statute of limitations for prosecuting actual rape…you know, like what Hillary Clinton’s husband probably did to Juanita Broderick in Arkansas (Statute of Limitations: 6 years). Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, The Internet

On Peter Pan, Pippi Longstocking, And Ethics Of Applying Political Correctness To Art And Literature

Cultural events earlier this month brought to light, on two continents, the problem of maintaining the integrity of art and literature under the onslaught of political correctness.

In Sweden, a controversy has erupted over the re-broadcast of a 1969 television adaptation of the Pippi Longstocking books, the children’s classics authored by Astrid Lindgren. The Swedish national TV station, SVT, announced that it is revising a scene from the 1969 television series about Pippi  which she says her father is “king of the Negroes,”a direct quote from one of the stories. Believe it or not, this has set off a contentious national debate.

The family has approved the station’s  desire to change the TV version, but is keeping the term in future editions of the books. In 2006, the family added a preface explaining that today, the word is considered “offensive,” but that when the books first appeared, “Negro was a common expression for people with black skin who lived in other parts of the world than ours.” That’s a sensible solution. Period and context is important in art and literature: the urge by some to constantly purge the world of any reference, word or attitude in past creations that seem out of place now leads to a form of cultural self-lobotomy. Erik Helmerson, a columnist at Dagens Nyheter, an influential Stockholm newspaper, called the changes a form of censorship. “I’m very sensitive to the fact that people are offended by the N word,” he said in an interview. “I’d never use it myself.” He even called revising the TV series  “a huge interference into freedom of speech.”  “Where do we draw the line? What do we cut and what do we keep? Who should decide? Who needs to be offended before we cut a word?” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Popular Culture, Race, U.S. Society

Hitler’s Paintings, Dirty Money, and an Ethics Quiz

A Hitler masterpiece during the artist's controversial "Care Bears" period

As readers here probably know, I don’t do much commentary on Swedish ethics, but this intriguing story touches on a couple of Ethics Alarms topics of continuing interest: so-called dirty money and political correctness.

Sweden’s debt collection agency had planned to sell seven paintings by that noted 20th Century artist Adolf Hitler to bring the government some extra cash to pay off debts. A genuine Hitler can fetch $40,000 or more on the global art market. The intended sale never happened, because the agency concluded that the paintings were fakes, but never mind: what is ethically provocative is that Stockholm’s Jewish association protested that it would be morally offensive for the government to make money off of Hitler’s artistic labors. “It is symbolically unfortunate that people earn money on these items,” said the group’s spokesperson. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, History

How the Lack of Ethics Cripples Democracy, Reason #2: Corporate Executive Greed

 

"Let's see...that's one schilling for Cratchet, 280 for me..."

The average compensation for chief executives of the 500 largest U.S. corporations is going up again.

According to Governance Metrics International, the average compensation for the CEOs, including salary, bonus and benefits plus the exercise of stock options, the vesting of stock grants and retirement benefits, was just under $12 million in 2010, up 18 percent from 2009. As Washington Post business writer Steve Pearlstein observes in his column this week, if you believe this is justified by market forces and common sense, “then you must also believe two things: First, that none of these guys would do the same job for a nickel less. Second, that the value of the chief executive went up 18 percent last year while the value of average workers in their companies changed very little.”  “And,” concludes Pearlstein, “if you believe that, you are a fool and an ideal candidate for an open seat on an S&P company board of directors.” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace