Category Archives: Business & Commercial

Memorial Ethics: Under Armour’s “Disrespect”

Underarmor

The Horror…

Just in time for Memorial Day comes this depressing example of how timid and wan Americans have become when free speech and expression are under attack. This is how acceptance of the Universal Veto of the Officious Offended will reduce the U.S. to a barren, humorless, imagination-free culture dominated by political correctness bullies and exploitive self-anointed, power-seeking “victims.”

Under Armour advertised a “Band of Ballers” tee-shirt showing a silhouette of men in backwards baseball caps raising a basketball hoop in the iconic pose of the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, in which combat weary soldiers are frozen in the act of raising an American flag after the Marine’s bloody victory at Iwo Jima.

There is nothing remotely wrong with this design. It is not disrespectful It is satire. It is a parody. It is using the status of the image to extol basketball; only a fool could read the image as an effort to denigrate veterans or the American flag. Personally, I think it’s clever, just as I like Charles Addams’ cartoon showing butchers wrestling with sausages in the pose of the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being devoured by serpents…

Addams Cartoon

…or parodies of Washington crossing the Delaware, like this ad for HBO’s “Veep”… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, History, Humor and Satire, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society

If You Are Going To Make Citizens United A Campaign Issue, You Are Ethically Obligated To Know What The Decision Actually Says

straw man

Here: read the damn thing.

There may have been other Supreme Court decisions that have been more shamefully misrepresented by pundits, activists and demagogues, but I can’t think of one.

The case is back in the news because Hillary Clinton, who  will try for a world record in cynical pandering to the least informed voters if she gets the Democratic nomination, told a group of her top fundraisers this week that if she is elected president, her nominees to the Supreme Court must share her belief that the Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision should be overturned, according to people who heard her remarks. In this she is echoing socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, who has said…

“If elected president, I will have a litmus test in terms of my nominee to be a Supreme Court justice. And that nominee will say that we are all going to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United because that decision is undermining American democracy. I do not believe that billionaires should be able to buy politicians.”*

The decision does not say that, or hold that, nor are the implications of the decision intended to allow that. Never mind. Bernie’s ideological leftist supporters don’t care what the decision really is about any more than Clinton does. It’s just a rallying cry against “the rich” and “big corporations.” The slogan is a positive litmus test result for ignorance, or, in Bernie’s case, the willingness to deceive. In Hillary’s case, it is just Hillary being Hillary, trying to keep Sanders from flanking her on the left. Do any of those who cheered her fatuous remarks about the decision know what the decision says? I’m dubious. I don’t even think that’s what they were cheering. They were cheering the symbolic use of the case as class warfare rather than the case itself. In fact, Hillary must be banking on nobody paying attention to the case for a very simple reason. Citizens United was about whether that government could ban a documentary that was critical of…Hillary Clinton!

That’s right, a presidential candidate is going to be on record that the films, books and other communications that criticize her should be illegal. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

The Latest Clinton Financial Disclosures: Never Mind The Appearance of Impropriety, This, Folks, Has The Appearance of Bribery

bribesDuring Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, Corning lobbied State on various trade issues, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The company also donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to her family’s foundation. I know, I know—as Clinton Foundation contributor and trained Clinton spinner George Stephanopoulos—he’s an objective journalist too, you know!—will indignantly remind you, that’s no smoking gun. Then,last July, knowing Clinton would run for President  in 2016, Corning paid an obscene $225,500 honorarium for Clinton to speak to them. Notes Vox, reliable Democratic cheer-leader Ezra Klein’s liberal commentary website,

“The $225,500 speaking fee didn’t go to help disease-stricken kids in an impoverished village on some long-forgotten patch of the planet. Nor did it go to a campaign account. It went to Hillary Clinton. Personally.”

Got that? This isn’t a well-laundered foundation donation that benefits the Clintons but is plausibly deniable since it is given to their slush fund/charity. This, says Vox correctly, “involves the clear, direct personal enrichment of Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate, by people who have a lot of money at stake in the outcome of government decisions.” Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics

Southwest Airlines And The Suicide Threat

Not exactly "friendly skies"

Not exactly “friendly skies”

We tend to assume someone was at fault when a terrible event results from the execution of a standard policy that was not appropriate to the crisis at hand. Who’s to blame in this nightmarish scenario?

Karen Momsen-Evers was on a Southwest Airlines plane about to take off from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where she lived. Then her husband Andy sent her a text asking her for forgiveness for his imminent suicide. “I go to sleep at night thinking what could I have done, what should I have done,” Evers said. She texted back “No,” but the text arrived as flight attendants were doing their final cabin checks. She wanted to call him. The flight attendant ordered her to turn her phone off, and when she insisted, was told that the FAA regulations prohibited any further use of her cellphone. “The steward slapped the phone down and said you need to go on airplane mode now,” Momsen-Evers told reporters.

Once the flight reached cruising altitude, the desperate woman explained the situation to another attendant. She begged her to have someone make an emergency phone call, but the attendant insisted there was nothing she could do.

So Karen Momsen-Evers sat in her seat, looking at the text and sobbing, all the way to Milwaukee. When she arrived home she was met by police officers, who told her Andy had killed himself. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family

When Typos Have Ethical Significance

Law-Firm-Advertising-FAIL

I was chided over the weekend for mocking a misspelling in one of the cuckoo online comments cheering on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ridiculous “monitoring” of U.S. military exercises in his state. The thrust of my critic’s argument was that picking on such modes of expression was not only a cheap shot but an elitist cheap shot. I generally deplore the “You wrote ‘teh!'” school of online debate, and in my view, that wasn’t what I was doing when I pointed out this particular Texas paranoid’s spelling of government as “goverment” twice . His “position” didn’t require any rebuttal, as it was self-evidently batty; I alluded to “goverment” because I concluded that it was not a typo, but rather an indication that the commenter was as ignorant as granite block. If you can’t spell government, you haven’t read about government enough to have an opinion on it worth inflicting on the rest of us.

It led me to ponder, however, when a typo has undeniable ethical significance, and mirabile dictu, Above the Law today provided the excellent example you see above.

This is part of the marketing for a law firm—you know, those organizations that provide lawyers to ordinary citizens who need help negotiating the complexities of our nation’s increasingly impenetrable laws and regulations in order to live and prosper? Lawyers are supposedly trained in the precision of language, as the presence or absence of a comma or semi-colon in a statute, a motion or a brief can mean the difference between a client being a criminal or a free man, and an unnoticed typo in the draft of a contract, will, trust or settlement can decide the fate of millions of dollars, the ownership of disputed property, the existence of a prenuptial agreement, and other momentous, life-altering  consequences.

The very existence of an embarrassing  law firm marketing device like this one—I think it’s a coaster—leads to many conclusions:

1. It tells us that the law firm’s managing partners are inattentive to details, and in law, details are everything.

2. It tells us that the lawyers in the firm inadequately supervise the non-lawyers who work for the firm, and the ethics rules demand that lawyers be especially attentive to such employees and contractors.

3. It tells us that at least one firm lawyer, whoever approved the thing, either is illiterate or can’t be trusted to check the text of documents, even documents containing only three words.

4.It tells us, in short, that this law firm, and by extension the lawyers it employs, cannot be trusted to exercise care, competence and diligence when they are representing themselves.

How can it possibly be trustworthy when it is representing others?

__________________

Pointer and Source: Above the Law

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Professions

Congress’s Ongoing Insider Trading Scandal

insider_trading_ban

The best I can figure is that when the exposure of outrageous corruption will devastate power politicians in both parties, neither party, nor their partisan herds, nor their lackey journalist allies, see it as advantageous to look under that rock. Does anyone have a better theory? Because the fact that almost all Senators and members of Congress, and often their staffs, enrich themselves using their knowledge of what laws are about to be passed, and the fact not only is nothing being done about it, but that most of the public doesn’t even know about it and no one is working very hard to tell them, is maddening.

The latest chapter is typical of the hypocrisy and dishonesty in this long-running ethics fiasco.

In 2012, Congress passed the STOCK Act, a bill that was supposed to stop insider trading for lawmakers and their staffs. Of course, the laws making insider trading illegal should have already stopped the practice, and the ethics rules prohibited it as well with such phrases as “conflicts of interest” and “appearance of impropriety.” Lawmakers aren’t supposed to break laws, you see. No, really. They’re not!
Continue reading

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What A Surprise: The Patriots Cheated. Now Comes The Integrity Check For The NFL And Its Fans

deflated-football

From the New York Times:

…On Wednesday, the N.F.L. released its report on its investigation into the scandal surrounding the surreptitious and rule-violating practice of deflating game-day footballs. Using detailed accounts and circumstantial evidence, it implicated Brady as part of the operation, saying he surely knew that the two employees, McNally, 48, and Jastremski, then 35, were purposely deflating footballs to a level beyond the permissible threshold for Brady’s benefit.

“There is less direct evidence linking Brady to tampering activities than either McNally or Jastremski,” the report said. “We nevertheless believe, based on the totality of the evidence, that it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski.”

The N.F.L. report absolved other top Patriots officials, including Coach Bill Belichick, the owner Robert K. Kraft and the equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld, saying that there was “no wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing” on their part….

I wrote the headline before I remembered: the NFL has no integrity, and neither do its fans. It was very clear that the Pats had cheated to get to the Super Bowl, and had the NFL cared anything about integrity, it would have completed its investigation in time to tell the Indianapolis Colts that they, and not the New England Serial Cheats, were going to the biggest game of the year, since it had lost the chance to a dastardly opponent. Instead, the league basked in the marquee match-up and one of the best games ever, and waited until now, four months later, with football as far out of mind as it can be, to announce that the New England Patriots, again, had cheated. Clever. Too clever.

I wrote a lot about this when it occurred, and had to put up with the predictable “innocent until proven guilty” crowd, the “it’s only a game ” crowd, the ” they would have won anyway” crowd, the “everybody cheats” crowd, the “it’s not like he invaded Iraq” crowd—essentially Barry Bonds defenders, Obama enablers, and Bill Clinton fans with football jerseys and Patriots beer mugs.  Now I get the Hillary Clinton crowd, who will ask, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” The NFL can make billions being as corrupt as it is, maiming athletes and turning colleges into shams, because so many, many Americans value a visceral rush on winter Sundays over fairness, justice, and honesty.

Observations: Continue reading

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