Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/26/1918: It’s Incompetence Friday!

Good Mronign!

Competence is often not regarded as an ethical value, but it is one of the most important of them all. It is also one of the most commonly breached, usually with the rationalization that “everyone makes mistakes.”

1 “The Nip” Redux  In a legendary “Seinfeld” episode, Elaine’s Christmas card features a photo, taken by amateur photographer and inveterate screw-up Kramer, in which one of her nipples is exposed. Kramer, however, was an admitted amateur. What is Vanity Fair’s alleged professionals’ excuse for its current cover (I’m not talking about the nauseating pandering to Hollywood it represents, for which there is no excuse), which shows actress Reese Witherspoon with three legs?

Vanity Fair may have been too focused on photoshopping out actor James Franco, who was in the original photo but became model-non-grata when he was accused of sexual harassment, and as #MeToo has taught us, an accusation is all the due process these male scum deserve.

2. Segue Alert! And speaking of Hollywood, there has been much ballyhoo over the fact that the nominated Best Actresses this year play feisty, unglamorous, tough, in several cases outright repulsive women. Question: Who likes watching such characters (and more are on the way)? The Academy snubbed the most popular film with a female star, Gail Gadot in “Wonder Woman,” who probably is still too politically incorrect because men—ick!—find her attractive. 2017 was a catastrophically bad year at the box office, meaning that Hollywood proved incompetent at its job, with is making movies people want to see. It also displayed incompetence—not to mention arrogance, bias, condescension, hypocrisy and stupidity–by shooting off its various mouths on political matters, making the entire film industry, which should be a unifying force in the culture, polarizing, like everything else in 2018.

The Hollywood Reporter has a report about the role politics plays in the Academy Award voting; this has always been true, but never more than now. I cannot imagine who would care what or who wins the statuettes when it is all transparent political grandstanding, virtue-signalling and an attempt to meet quotas. Next crisis on the horizon: Hispanic artists are gearing up to show how they have been statistically insufficiently represented in nominations and awards. I presume Asians will do likewise. Why are there not more roles and awards for the differently-abled? Trans performers? Hollywood is committed to the Left, the Left is committed to tribalism, and tribalism has nothing to do with popular entertainment.

Or democracy. But I digress. Continue reading

Partisan Hypocrisy And Dishonesty: A Facebook Case Study In Clinton Corruption


The unethical individual in this case is an old and cherished friend. She isn’t a fool. She is, in most matters, compassionate, fair, informed, thoughtful and rational.  I cannot begin to describe how disappointed I am in the lack of integrity and self-awareness in her conduct.

Before the election, she posed the meme above.  That’s the friend I know, or thought I knew before the toxic values of Hillary Clinton corrupted her.

After the election, she has posted this, a typically vile, sneering anti-conservative screed by Paul Krugman. A quote:

We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law.It turns out that we were wrong. There turn out to be a huge number of people — white people, living mainly in rural areas — who don’t share at all our idea of what America is about. For them, it is about blood and soil, about traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy. And there were many other people who might not share those anti-democratic values, but who nonetheless were willing to vote for anyone bearing the Republican label.

I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible.


No despair there!

Next up was this hysterical piece, from the New Yorker, called “An American Tragedy.” I can’t let this part go unanswered, because it is becoming the accepted manipulative and deception euphemism of the election. Hillary’s beaten, she’s gone, and unlike Richard Nixon, she’s not going to rise like Dracula and make a comeback. I want to leave her alone just as I never want the slimy Clintons to darken my brainpan again, but first, I want the biased journalists who tried to sell her as Joan of Arc to stop the lies.

The author writes,

“Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but a resilient, intelligent, and competent leader, who never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled.”

Donald Trump could just as justifiably could be called “flawed,” as well as Pol Pot. What are the “flaws” this cover-word is hiding? Well, she is greedy, venal, willing to use conflicts of interest and influence peddling for personal gain, violates rules and laws when she knows she is shielded by her power and crony connection from accountability, a ruthless foe of the victim of alleged sexual assault when it is advantageous, and an outspoken advocate for them when that is advantageous. When she is caught, she lies. When the lies are exposed, she spins, and her apologies are misleading too. That’s why she “never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled“—she IS untrustworthy and entitled, and couldn’t hide it long enough to be elected President over a completely unstable, ignorant ass. Resilient—I’ll give her resilient. Intelligent too, although she sure did and said some incredibly stupid things for an intelligent person. But competent? Competent people learn about cyber-security when they run the State Department. Competent people are not “extremely careless” (rather than “grossly negligent”) in handling classified information.

Then my friend posted this, from Vanity Fair. It’s a letter Hollywood liberal Aaron Sorkin supposedly wrote to his daughter. It is full of scaremongering like this:

“The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads everywhere. Hate was given hope….And the world took no time to react. The Dow futures dropped 700 points overnight. Economists are predicting a deep and prolonged recession…”

Yes, “economists” like Paul Krugman, who wrote Tuesday night that the stock market would NEVER recover. The stock market rebounded almost immediately, and stocks are now soaring. Bias makes you stupid.

Not finished yet in her efforts to avoid despair, my friend posted this editorial from the New York Times, which encompassed boiler-plate progressive talking points:

“There is a planet to save. The earth is in peril from a changing climate no matter how many deniers say otherwise. There may be millions of immigrants to shield from a Trump homeland-enforcement regime. State and local governments may need to step in if the federal government retreats from protecting consumers or helping educate children. And there may be sick people to care for, should Mr. Trump dismantle the Affordable Care Act.”

Of course, Mrs. Clinton never articulated a course for “saving the planet” or its price-tag, because she knows that spending massive amounts on speculative “fixes” will make the debt even more frightening than it has become under Obama, and will require either cutting social spending or massive tax hikes. That part is just Bernie-speak. There are no legal immigrants to shield from anything, and the New York Times just declared that the prospect of enforcing our laws is apocalyptic. Under federal funding and guidance, America’s education at all level is disgraceful now. And the Affordable Care Act has mass heath care increasingly affordable for those who didn’t need a government subsidy. Trump might try something else that actually works? The monster.

The specifics are a tangential issue though, I know. The point is that this, and a huge number of other irresponsible editorials, assays, columns creeds and internet posts like them, are seeding despair. So are the Clinton Corrupted who are plastering them all over public media.

On this last one, I lightly pointed out to my friend that the essay was less that fair or accurate, as did another.

She deleted both comments.

Now I understand, unfortunately. That reasonable, measured, rational, responsible appeal to calm and fairness was only supposed to apply to Republicans. Since my friend never dreamed that she might be held to the same standards she preached to those whose opinion she did not agree with or respect, she never considered having to follow her own advice, or the ethical value of doing so.

Like anything else, ethics is just another political tool to the politically corrupted, to manipulate and deceive.

Comment of the Day: “Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale”

"Yikes! Doc says I have to go back to the Seventies and make sure Caitlyn Jenner wins the Ladies Decathlon!"

“Yikes! Doc says I have to go back to 1976 and make sure Jenner wins the Ladies Decathlon!”

It is testimony to the passion, breadth and erudition of the readership here that when I miss an ethics angle to a story, it almost always is raised, and well, by someone else. Here is a wonderful example, johnburger’s ethical objection to the instant, inaccurate and unethical recasting of Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner as female, because Jenner has adopted another gender identity more than 30 years later. I’ll have a brief note in the end,

Here is johnburger’s Comment of the Day on the post, Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale: Continue reading

Confused Ethics Observations On Caitlyn Jenner, Up and Down the Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Cognitive DissonanceThis whole episode is pure cognitive dissonance hell for me, with high scale values clashing with low scale conduct, and the result being as hard to analyze neatly and dispassionately as the aftermath of an elevator crash. But I’m a fool, so I’ll take a shot at it anyway.

1. Bruce, now Caitlyn, Jenner’s openness about his transsexual issues is brave and may yet help this misunderstood and routinely derided group achieve acceptance. PLUS.

2. She should have played ethics chess, however, and as a public figure who, she now says, always planned this transition, was irresponsible not to. Associating herself with the traveling freak, venality, bad taste and atrocious values caravan known as the Kardashians guaranteed that anything she did thereafter would be a legitimate object of suspicion. MINUS.

3. Turning her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn into a reality show was similarly counter-productive and harmful to her cause, assuming the cause really matters to her. I doubt that it does.  Reality shows equal schlock, emotionalism, manipulation, phoniness—and money. That won’t help the trans population. MINUS.

4. As the first bona fide celebrity to undergo gender reassignment (no, I don’t call Chastity Bono a real celebrity), Jenner could have handled this in a modest, measured manner that made trans people look reasonable, dignified, and rational. Unfortunately, Bruce Jenner was always a fame-addicted narcissist,  so her handling of the process is what you’d expect from one. Too bad. MINUS.

5. Thus we have the over-praised, over exposed, over-hyped, Vanity Fair cover, which is pure sensationalism, an exploitation of a serious issue for magazine sales, and a fraud. (Literally anyone can be dressed, shaved, and made up to look feminine.) Is Jenner interested in legitimizing and de-stigmatizing gender reassignment, or getting hubba-hubbas for a titillating man-to-bimbo transformation? Is Playboy next for Caitlyn? Don’t bet against it. MINUS for Vanity Fair; MINUS for Jenner

6. Is this really the way an ethical father kindly, sensitively and responsibly handles this kind of tectonic life change when he has six children and four step-children, including teenaged daughters? Admittedly, the daughters are crypto-Kardashians, so normal rules of delicacy might not apply. Still… MINUS for Jenner.

7. Republicans, conservatives and Neanderthals who are incapable of comprehending this serious topic should shut up about it.  There is grounds to criticize many aspects of this episode in American culture, but just making snarky comments like Neil Cavuto did on Fox is unproductive, unkind, divisive, and, frankly—I’ve been on Neil’s show, and I hate to say it—makes one look like an ass. If you don’t understand what’s going on, Neil, there’s no law that says you have to cover it. MINUS for Cavuto.

8. I had to shut off TV to get way from the breathless coverage of Jenner’s “coming out” photo. This isn’t respectful or responsible coverage, this is “Look! Bruce Jenner is HOT!!! She has BOOBS!” coverage, juvenile, degrading, and transparently salacious. It shouts “freak,” and that is exactly what Jenner should not want, nor should any LGBT advocate. Of course, the conduct of Vanity Fair and Jenner asked for it. MINUS for the news media.

9. To the extent that Jenner’s act promotes more public discussion and understanding of the issues facing trans individuals, this all may have a beneficial effect that may outweigh the negatives. Right now, there is too much static to tell. PLUS.

I hope.

Contest Entry For Most Unethical Column, Post Or Essay About The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck: Vanity Fair and W. Kamau Bell

Large, male, black...also irresponsible and dishonest.

Large, male, black…also irresponsible and dishonest.

My nominee for the contest: Vanity Fair’s “On Being a Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, in America in 2014” by comedian W. Kamau Bell.

Maybe Bell thinks the extra face-time on cable news this despicably deceitful essay gets him does enough for his career to justify adding to the false narrative about the Michael Brown shooting.  It isn’t. Nor is it worth the ignorance, hatred and fear he is sowing by intentionally misrepresenting what happened to Mike Brown as simply the natural consequence of his race, gender and size. Conduct had a lot to do with it too.

The article is really sinister, repeatedly comparing the author, who is about the same height as Brown was, to the slain teen, implying but never quite saying that Brown was killed simply because he was, in the author’s words, black, male, and large. Here’s a typical passage:

“I am afraid of the cops. Absolutely petrified of the cops. Now understand, I’ve never been arrested or held for questioning. I’ve never been told that I “fit the description.” But that doesn’t change a thing. I am afraid of cops the way that spiders are afraid of boots. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and SQUISH! You are dead.  Simply put, I am afraid of the cops because I am black. To raise the stakes even further, I am male. And to go all in on this pot of fear, I am six foot four, and weigh 250 pounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed Missouri 18-year-old shot dead by police this summer, was also six foot four. Depending on your perspective, I could be described as a “gentle giant,” the way that teachers described  Brown. Or I could be described as a “demon,” the way that Officer Darren Wilson described Michael Brown in his grand-jury testimony.”

He doesn’t exactly say that Brown was “walking along, minding his own business,” but that’s his intent, and he knows that’s what thousands have chosen to believe. He says that he, like Brown, could be described as a “gentle giant,’ but omits the detail that Brown was obviously not accurately described as “gentle.” If he were gentle, he would be alive. He also, being intentionally misleading, fails to mention that Wilson described Brown as looking like demon when the teen was attacking him.

Michael Brown wasn’t shot because he was large, black and male. He was shot because he attacked a police officer, twice, and because his size made that attack more legitimately threatening.  Because of his size and what he was doing with it, no reference to Brown’s color is necessary or relevant.

Bell’s perceptions of white reactions to a law-abiding, civil citizen because he happens to be a large black male  have added some useful perspective  to the national discussion of racial bias and police conduct, had he not chosen the path of using the topic to insinuate an innocent victim’s status for Michael Brown that does not comport with facts, slanders Darren Wilson, and fans the flames of ignorance and hate.

No responsible publication should publish something like this.


Unethical Quote Of The Week: Tina Brown

“The Monica Lewinsky confessional in Vanity Fair brings back a torrent of unfond memories of the appalling cast of tabloid gargoyles who drove the scandal. Remember them? Treacherous thatched-roof-haired drag-queen Linda Tripp, with those dress-for-success shoulder pads? Cackling, fact-lacking hack Lucianne Goldberg, mealy-mouthed Pharisee Kenneth Starr—the whole buzzing swarm of legal, congressional and gossip industry flesh flies, feasting on the entrails. And, of course, hitting “send” on each new revelation that no one else would publish, the solitary, perfectly named Matt Drudge, operating in pallid obsession out of his sock-like apartment in Miami… They were the face of the future. The things that shocked us then—the illicitly taped conversations, the wholesale violations of elementary privacy, the globally broadcast sexual embarrassments, all the low-life disseminated malice—is now the communications industry as it operates every minute of every day.”

—-Daily Beast publisher Tina Brown, in an essay titled “How Monica Lewinsky Changed the Media”

Tina Brown, revealing the ugliness beneath...

Tina Brown, revealing the ugliness beneath…

This is an unethical statement for the ages. It launches an dishonestly titled piece with an unethical premise and unethical motives, virtually every phrase in it is despicable, and it reveals the dearth of admirable values not only within Brown, but within the millions of people who think like her, many of whom she and her cohorts corrupted.

In Abby Mann’s important drama, “Judgment at Nuremberg” (it had three forms of presentation: TV drama, film, and finally, stage), based on the third and final stage of the post World War II war crimes trials devoted to trying the Nazi judges, a vulnerable female witness and victim of Nazi justice is harshly cross-examined about an infamous case at the heart of the trials. Her humiliation is interrupted when one of the defendant judges (in the film, Bert Lancaster), stands to halt the inquisition, asking, “Are you going to do this again?”

The answer clearly coming from the Bill and Hillary Clinton Ethics Amnesia Team is clearly “Yes! It worked before, why not now?”

Monica was responsible for the whole impeachment train wreck, you see, and all that followed. That was Hillary’s position (once the original cover lie that it was all the fabrication of a vast right-wing conspiracy became unsustainable, with that stained dress and all), and as outrageous and audaciously despicable as it is, that it is still what the corrupt, corrupted and corrupting supporters of these two Machiavellian blights on our culture and politics are determined to make Americans believe, no matter how much bending of history, facts, logic, fairness, decency and responsibility it requires. Continue reading

No Ruth, Monica Is Still A Victim, Bill Is Still A Predator, And Why Do “Feminist” Pundits Still Make Excuses For The Clintons?

biil-and-monicaThe Washington Post’s brigade of shamelessly ideological or just plain incompetent columnists has been out in force of late, placing me in a dilemma: if I write full posts calling all of them on their deceitful and irresponsible essays, I make Ethics Alarms look like Newsbusters, and if I don’t, only the angry, equally ideological columnists on “conservative media sites” will, and what they say doesn’t matter, because they’re all mean, lying “wingnuts,” don’t you know. So I’m going to let it pass that Kathleen Parker wrote yet another of her wishy-washy, hand-wringing protests against the fact that ethical decision-making requires policy makers to make tough choices, her craven proclamation that while it is true that some criminals deserve to die, she isn’t willing to accept her part in society’s obligation to see that they get what they deserve. I will note that either she or the Post scrubbed the online version of a sentence in the print version that actually said that explicitly, but never mind. Parker is still clear in her high-minded cowardice.

And I will restrain myself from awarding the Baghdad Bob Award to Eugene Robinson, who increasingly makes me wonder how much of a role affirmative action played in his Pulitzer Prize. He submitted a certifiably batty column proclaiming that the Obama administration has been a wonder to behold, that the economy is “fixed”, that the latest jobs and economic numbers were glorious, that Obamacare is an unequivocal success, and that the Democrats should declare that all is well, because it is. Meanwhile, just about every fact-based story in his own, relentlessly liberal newspaper rebutted his words. Robinson’s an opinion columnist: a point of view is necessary. Misleading readers ( “Critics have stopped talking about a hypothetical “death spiral” in which the health insurance reforms collapse of their own weight, since it is now clear that nothing of the sort will happen,” he wrote. I was able to find several such predictions from credible analysts written within the last two weeks, and I didn’t spend much time looking. Here’s one of them…) and partisan cheerleading, however, is unethical and unprofessional. The Pulitzer just isn’t what it used to be, I guess. Sort of like the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am going to take on Dana Milbank’s description of the Benghazi scandal as a “nothingberger”Shouldn’t referring to a coordinated, news-media-assisted cover-up of  intentional public deception by a President in the midst of a Presidential campaign as “nothing” (never mind that the incident at the heart of the deception involved the deaths of four Americans, including an ambassador) disqualify a columnist from regular publication by a respectable news source?—-but not today.

No, today the winner is Ruth Marcus, a member of the Post’s editorial staff whose column this week spun the new Monica Lewinsky Vanity Fair piece as a boon to Hillary Clinton: Continue reading

The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Lying Poll, For What It’s Worth, and That’s Not Much

"Ummmm..."The Princess Bride"?

“Ummmm…”The Princess Bride”?

CBS and Vanity Fair—now there’s a pair—is out with a so-called poll on lying, which I offer for your amusement, and perhaps irritation. Among its “findings”:

  • Only 57% of those polled said they have never preferred to be lied to.
  • COMMENT: This makes no sense in light of the 2012 Presidential election.
  • Only 48% of the public knew which film “You can’t handle the truth!” comes from, and 29% couldn’t even hazard a guess. COMMENT: It’s comforting to know that the public isn’t any more educated in relevant popular culture than it is in more important matters.
  • More of those polled said they lie to their mother (17%) than lie to their boss (12%). COMMENT:  So much for “the Mom Test” ethics alarm, in which you test a considered action’s ethics  against your willingness to tell your mother about it. If you just lie to Mom about it, problem solved! Continue reading

A Nation of Unethical Superheroes

Among some more substantive questions in the current Vanity Fair’s “60 Minutes”/Vanity Fair poll was this one:

“Suppose you could have THE POWER OF A SUPERHERO. Which power would you choose?”

The choices presented were super strength, flying, invisibility, the ability to read minds, and x-ray vision. When the votes were tallied, the largest group, by far, was made up of those who chose mind-reading.

It is just a silly poll based on fantasy. I still find it alarming that 35% chose the ability to read minds, an unequivocally unethical power. Invading anyone’s private thoughts is per se unethical, although it does beat waterboarding. In a distant second place, with 21%  of the votes, was flying, one of the two ethical powers among the options, along with super strength. The unethical powers—mind-reading, invisibility and x-ray vision—attracted 57% of the votes over-all.

There is nothing wrong with having unethical fantasies as long as they stay fantasies. Still, I would feel better about my fellow citizens if I didn’t think so many of them would choose to violate my privacy and learn my confidences if they had the chance. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I could trust Superman.