Flunking Responsibility, Honesty, Common Sense and Ethics: Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Daily Kos, and Anyone Else Who Repeats This Idiotic Analogy

Deval Patrick

I thought I might run an ethics quiz asking whether this current and mind-bogglingly stupid argument that keeps popping up from my sentiment-addled Facebook friends is more unethical than the pro-Hamas hashtags being appended to twitter comments by the “Think of the children!” saps led by celebrities like Jon Stewart, Selena Gomez, and John Cusack. Pondering on it, however, I realized that as ethically misguided as Stewart at al. are, the above quote and its ilk are worse….especially since state governors and U.S. Senators have more credibility than comedians and Disney pop tarts. Not that they should, mind you.

If I really have to make a detailed argument explaining why Deval’s quote and  Leahy’s ( “Think of all those Jews that went to the ovens because we forgot our principles. Let’s not turn our backs now.”) are unforgivably irresponsible, we are just as dim-witted as those demagogues (or, more likely, as dim-witted as they hope and think we are.) The statements are no more nor less than an invitation to every parent of every child in every poor, war-torn, politically foul, culturally poisoned, dangerous, corrupt nation in the world to somehow get them to the U.S. border, paying shady and often treacherous agents to do so, because the United States will not “turn its back,” and turn them back. The question isn’t whether this is a legitimate, responsible or sane position worthy of debate and serious consideration: of course it isn’t. The question is how anyone can think it is. Continue reading

Anything Goes: Campaign by Rumor and Slander in the Wisconsin Recall

Wait…who’s “Dan”?

Combining  confirmation bias, whereby any uncomplimentary rumor about one’s enemy is assumed to be true, with “ends justify the means” political warfare philosophy, can banish all fairness and honesty from political campaigns. Spreading slanderous falsehoods about candidates for office is as old as the United States, but the internet and social networking sites, along with the increasingly irresponsible news media, allow the unethical tactic to be more effective, and sinister, than ever.

Now, fearing that the vengeance of the public unions, as orchestrated by the Democratic Party, is going to fall short in tomorrow’s recall election in Wisconsin, the foes of Governor Scott Walker grabbed a manufactured smear about Walker fathering a love child 24 years ago, and have made every effort to make it viral. An anti-Walker website called the Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op [“a group of citizen journalists who began covering the Wisconsin Uprising in February, 2011. We came from different walks of life, different professional backgrounds and different parts of the state to document the dismantling of democratic process and tradition taking place in our state under the right wing onslaught of the Scott Walker regime”] recounted a second-hand story by an anti-Walker  classmate of the governor, who purported to have inside knowledge about his efforts to cover-up his impregnation of her roommate while he was running for class president (yes, this is another school days smear, like the Romney prep school episode. If you can’t beat ’em as adults, beat ’em as kids. That seems to be the current philosophy in both political camps. Phew!). Continue reading

The Herman Cain Web Hoax, Confirmation Bias, and Untrustworthy Commentators

Other possible titles for this entry include “Now THIS Is Confirmation Bias!” and “How Ideological Passion Can Make You an Idiot.”

Here is a screen shot of a  Herman Cain PAC website that surfaced this week:

Did you think it was real? Do you think it was intended to fool anyone above the age of 12? Did you not see the horse gag coming a mile away? I guess the real question is, did it take you three seconds, or only one to figure out that it was a gag? Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Daily Kos Blogger “bal”

Did Past Paul Ryan make Future Paul Ryan a hypocrite, or vice-versa? Is that even possible?

I sometimes comfort myself with the fantasy that the extreme left websites like The Daily Kos are written and read solely by 15-year-olds. While this adds to my anxieties about the public schools’ incompetence at teaching basic skills like logic, analysis and argument, it soothes my fears that our nation’s policies and political discourse are being dangerously warped by millions of addled adults whose passion is untempered by even a modicum of fairness and common sense. In this spirit, I am hoping that bal is a teenager, which would explain, though not justify, his absurd post on Kos. I fear he is not.

He writes, “I guess it’s only when social programs help other people that they’re bad, because I haven’t seen Paul Ryan acknowledging how Social Security benefits helped him and his family in trying times. Continue reading

Ethics BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!! A NEW Missoula “List” Controversy, and It’s Just as Stupid as the FIRST One!

I am sorely tempted to just scream, “ARRRRRRRGGHHHHHHHH!!!!” and leave it at that.

This time around, the humorless, metaphor-challenged, unfair individuals and media outlets misrepresenting an innocent, non-violent, non-provocative use of the imagery of putting someone on a list doesn’t hail from the lunatic Right, like Ronbo and his Missoula Maniacs (an excellent name for a rock band, if you ask me), but from the Left….proving that when it comes to allowing ideological fervor turn your brain to mush and your ethics to applesauce, there are no partisan limitations.

But…you are not going to believe this, but it’s true…this one started in Missoula, Montana too, just like the Missoula Mikado Affair!

Get this:

But first: ARRRRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

OK, I feel a little better. Let’s proceed: Continue reading

Ethics Call To Arms: Fight the “Fuck You!” Culture

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

This was the very first edict in the list of civility rules memorized by George Washington as a child, rules that shaped his character and significantly influenced not only his life and career but the fate of America. Like most of Washington’s 11o rules, the first has universal and timeless validity, pointing all of us and our culture toward a society based on mutual respect, caring, empathy, and fairness.

Recently, however, there has been a powerful cultural movement away from George’s rules and the culture of civility that they represent. Rudeness has always been with us, of course, and public decorum has been in steady decline since the Beatniks of the Fifties, to the point where it is unremarkable to see church-goers in flip-flops and airplane passengers in tank-tops. Something else is going on, however. Like the colored dots of paint in a George Seurat painting, isolated incidents and clues have begun to converge into a picture, and it is not one of a pleasant day in the park. I believe we are seeing a dangerous shift away from civility as a cultural value, which means that we are seeing a cultural rejection of ethics. The past two weeks have presented damning evidence that this true. Continue reading

Unethical Pundit of the Week: The Daily Beast’s Dana Goldstein

I try not to consider political punditry unethical, except when the opinion rendered is unusually dishonest, misleading, uncivil, or unfair. Unfortunately, the current ideological blood sport fostered and nurtured by such outlets as Fox New, MSNBC, the Daily Kos and Breitbart, and carried on by such commentators as Ann Coulter and Frank Rich, make it increasing difficult to follow my own guideline. Occasionally there pieces so outrageously unfair that they make me angry, and those are ethically perilous: emotion is not conducive to balanced analysis. Usually I pass. The recent screed of Dana Goldstein on The Daily Beast, however, has to be condemned.

I just hope I can get through the process of explaining what without becoming furious.

It is entitled “Is Jan Brewer Anti-Immigrant Because She Didn’t Go to College?,” earning an ethics red flag right off the bat for intentionally equating Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law with being “anti-immigrant,” which it is not.  Continue reading

From Tweet to Blog to Lie: Palin’s Laughs

Sadly, this is how the web works.

Sarah Palin was guest on Jay Leno’s return to NBC’s “Tonight Show,” and inexplicably did something of a stand-up comic routine. One of the audience members was a non-admirer of Palin named Michael Stinson, who didn’t think she was funny. After the taping he sent out a “tweet” on his Twitter account that read, “Listen for me laughing, no one else is.” Stinson says he was shocked when he saw the broadcast, as Palin’s jokes seemed to be getting big laughs. He sent out another Tweet that read, “I know sound. And it’s my opinion that audio portions of Sarah Palin’s March 2nd appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight show were added or amplified, edited before broadcast to make it appear that Sarah Palin was more welcome than she was.” Continue reading