Monthly Archives: April 2017

More 7-11 Ethics (What IS It With That Store?)

 

Once again (I think this makes three times) a visit to the local Alexandria 7-11 on Quaker Lane yielded a spontaneous ethics drama.

As I was about to get in line to buy a bag of Bugles and some vile tobacco products, two men began shouting at each other. A father with two young boys became upset that the other man was taking too long at the Slurpee machine, and when he protested that he was going as fast as he could, the father told him to “fuck off.”

“Hey, why do you think you can talk to me like that in public?” the man shot back. “You have kids…that’s a great way to raise them. Really? You really think that’s appropriate?”

“How I raise my kids is none of your business,” the vulgar dad replied.

“You have no class at all, buddy,” the second man said. “And now your kids will have no class too, and we all will have to live with them.”

I thought there was going to be a fist fight, but after some more back and forth, they went to their respective corners. I was behind the Slurpee neophyte, and I just had to salute him.

“Good for you,” I said. “That kind of public behavior has to be flagged and condemned whenever it happens, or we end up in a downward spiral of rudeness, and living in a nation of assholes.”

The man turned to me and thanked me. “I really appreciate that,” he said. “It means a lot to have some support.”

The duty to confront, and to enforce cultural norms of conduct. He got it. Everyone needs to, and now more than ever.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, U.S. Society

Finding His Country In The Jaws Of A Values Crisis, It’s Richard Dreyfuss To The Rescue! or, “This Was No Boating Accident!” [UPDATED]

Several episodes in the news this week had me pondering a post about whether the hysteria of “the resistance” has caused a critical mass of Democrats and progressives to lose their grip on basic ethical values, like decency, tolerance, respect, proportion, democracy and citizenship competence. These were all ethics alarms, perhaps especially for liberal Americans with integrity, warnings that their side of the ideological divide is not merely spinning off its axis, but spinning into insanity.

Ethics Alarm #1, and the worst by far, was this astounding scenario out of Newton Massachusetts.

Newton District Court Judge Mary Beth Heffernan freed a previously deported Uber driver accused of three charges of rape on minimal  bail even after a prosecutor insisted that federal immigration agents were drafting a detainer and asked for higher bond to hold him. Tapes of this week’s hearing revealed the judge cutting  arguments short, and before a defense attorney could even counter the prosecution’s $100,000 bail and GPS-monitoring demand, declalred, “Twenty-five hundred dollars cash.” She then set a follow-on court date  and asked, “Is he going to make the bail today?”

On the tape, someone in the courtroom is heard calling out, “Yes.” Heffernan then asked a court employee, “Can you take bail downstairs? Sometimes they won’t, they make them go back out to the House of Correction at 4 o’clock.” The defendant, Luis Baez, promptly disappeared, which was the evident goal of the judge. She was more concerned with allowing an illegal, already once deported immigrant avoid ICE arrest than  protecting the citizens of Massachusetts.

Baez was accused of raping a drunken Boston College student who had hailed his Uber car. Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Raquel Frisardi told the judge that Baez took the young woman to a parking lot and other sites, and raped her three times.. He then dropped his victim  at Boston College, where she reported she had been raped. Baez was introduced to the judge as “somebody known to the Boston police gang unit as having previous involvement in the Mozart Street Gang, someone who had been previously prosecuted and in fact previously deported.”

She didn’t care about any of that. Judge Heffernan, a judicial appointment of Obama pal, former Governor Deval Patrick, was a former public safety secretary in his administration who had resigned in the midst of a scandal. True to her party’s obsession, she was determined to help Baez avoid immigration enforcement.

Ethics Alarm #2 illustrates how warped some even previously warped hyper-partisans have become in their hatred of the President.

Talking on  MSNBC with Chris Hayes about the dangerous situation with North Korea, Hayes, a card-carrying Trump-basher if there ever was one, made the rather obvious statement that he’s “genuinely rooting for” Trump to “handle the North Korea situation well.” Good for Chris Hayes: he’s an American, and partisan hate hasn’t completely eaten his brain. Not Moore though.

“I don’t know if I agree with that,” Moore responded. Moore went on to explain that it is more important to him that Trump fail and thus lose power than for the United States to successfully defuse the rogue nuclear nation and its threat to the world.  “It’s like rooting for a 6-year-old who suddenly swiped dad’s car and figured out how to take it down the road,” the fool stated. “I’m not rooting for the 6-year-old to get on the highway and drive that car. I want the 6-year-old off the highway.”

This accurately expresses the message being broadcast by much of the anti-Trump forces, including the Democratic Party, since the election. They are willing to facilitate almost any damage —in Moore’s case, nuclear destruction—to the nation, its institutions, its stability and the public if it will somehow undo the election, and get Donald Trump “off the highway.” Moore is obviously an extreme case, but when you find yourself in the same camp as someone who thinks like he does, the ethics alarms should be deafening.

Ethics Alarm #3 came in the context of climate change, along with open borders the most intensely and irrationally held tenet of current progressive cant. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Popular Culture, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero, Corporate Division: Merck

Sometimes, though their implacable foes would refuse to acknowledge it, big corporations do the right thing even without a metaphorical gun at their heads. This week’s Economist magazine relates an amazing example that the public needs to know about, especially since it challenges popular stereotypes about Big Pharma.

The Economist begins by horrifying us with a deadly aspect of life in third world countries that are hot and wet: “neglected tropical diseases,” or NTDs. These are neglected because the populations that suffer from them are poor and far away, but they affect more than a billion people. Among the scourges, all parasitic, are Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, guinea-worm disease, leishmaniasis, river blindness, trachoma and yaws. There are 18 pernicious maladies currently listed as NTSs.

In the 1970s, mega-pharmaceutical firm Merck developed the drug ivermectin after tests on animals with parasitic infections. William Campbell, one of the firm’s parasitologists,told company executives that the new drug might be effective against the parasite that caused onchocerciasis, or river blindness, which  afflicts populations in in parts of Africa, Latin America, and  Yemen.  He was given the green light to find out.

The first human trial of ivermectin as treatment for river blindness took place in Senegal in 1981, on patients who had the early stages of the disease—itching, rashes— but no damage to their eyes yet. The results were encouraging,  indicating that ivermectin was safe for humans and highly effective at stopping the disease before it blinded its victims.  Merck, however, now faced the problem that has impeded cures for all the neglected tropical diseases: those who needed ivermectin were too poor to buy it, and so were the nations where they lived. Big corporations are not charities; they have investors, stockholders and a bottom line. They are not accustomed or programmed to give away their products.

Yet Merck made a corporate decision that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say is impossible. Starting in 1987, it made an open-ended commitment to distribute as much ivermectin as was needed to eradicate the river blindness worldwide. In the next ten years, it swallowed the cost of 100 million doses. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Marketing and Advertising, Public Service, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, Workplace

Incompetence Saturday’s Grand Finale: The Most Incompetent Story Ever Told!

The promise (L) and the reality (R)

I have now read about ten articles about the collapse of the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, and I still find it hard to comprehend.

The Fyre Festival was conceived by rapper Ja Rule and associate Billy McFarland in the Bahamas, and promoted by pop celebrities (I barely, just barely, know these people) Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Hailey Baldwin and Bella Hadid, In a promo video posted January, the Fyre Festival promised..

“The best in food, art, music and adventure…on the boundaries of the impossible, Fyre is an experience and festival…A quest to push beyond those boundaries!”

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

“You’ll be flown roundtrip on a custom, VIP configured Boeing 737 aircraft between Miami International Airport and Exuma International Airport on Great Exuma,” said the festival’s website. “Guests will be staying in modern, eco-friendly, geodesic domes. … Unplug from the everyday and ignite your flame in the Exumas!” Among theacts scheduled to perform were Major Lazer and Blink-182, as well as a DJ “who specializes in producing ’70s and ’80s rock remixes for clients that include Middle Eastern and European royalty.”.

Celebrities with ties to the organizers  tweeted and Instagrammed, building buzz about Fyre.  Ja Rule tweeted just a month ago, “This is where the cool kids will be April 27-30 May 5-8!!! #fyrefestival #fyre.”

Ticket packages to experience the self-proclaimed “cultural event of the decade” included accommodations and chartered flights from Miami, with a low price of $900 and a luxury tag of $399,995 for access to the performers.  Days before the festival was to begin, @fyrefestival  was still ginning up anticipation.

Then the festival-goers arrived on the first day to find…nothing. Well, worse than nothing: chaos. Those who had  paid $500 apiece for what the festival’s promotion described as “villas” found that the only shelter provided were FEMA-style refugee tents. There was no food, except some hastily packaged cheese sandwiches. All of the scheduled performers canceled.

The festivalgoers who hadn’t arrived by private yachts found themselves confused and stranded, with luggage but nowhere to sleep for the night. Some paid festival employees $100 to return them to the airport in a flatbed truck, but when they arrived at the airport gate, they were told that they couldn’t access the airport, requiring more bribes to get to a plane, if they were lucky. The stampede of shocked glitterati desperately trying to flee backed up the local airports, stranding many attendees in deplorable conditions, like understaffed kitchen tents with  pots of uncooked food.

And where were the organizers during all this? Nowhere near the “festival,” in Ja Rule’s case. (McFarland was  either partying on a yacht the first night of the festival, or he actually showed his face and tried to assist the victims of his ineptitude. I tend to the first account, because if he did show up, I would assume that he would be chum by now.)  Ja Rule was performing… in Chicago. He later issued a ridiculous statement, saying in part,

“I’m heartbroken at this moment. My partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event, it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting. I don’t know how everything went so left but I’m working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded … I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT … but I’m taking responsibility I’m deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this.”

Comments:

1. If you organize and promote an event and it turns out like this one, it IS your fault. You idiot.

2.  If it was a scam, at least the results could be explained as something other than someone persuading many people to trust and rely on him when he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

3. Inconvenienced? INCONVENIENCED? Selling tickets to an event in the Exumas that requires people to fly there and be met with a total fiasco is a lot more than an inconvenience.

His partner, Billy McFarland, had equally jaw-dropping comments, which included these gems..

We started this website and launched this festival marketing campaign. Our festival became a real thing and took [on] a life of its own. Our next step was to book the talent and actually make the music festival. We went out excited, and that’s when a lot of reality and roadblocks hit. 

The Exumas didn’t have a really great infrastructure – there wasn’t a great way to get guests in here – we were a little bit ambitious. There wasn’t water or sewage. It was almost like we tried building a city out of nothing and it took almost all of our personal resources to make this happen, and everything we had, to make this festival go on. We thought we were ready and built two different festival sites….The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes. Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realized, “Wow, we can’t do this.” We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems….We thought we were making timeframes that were correct. We were a little naïve in thinking for the first time we could do this ourselves. Next year, we will definitely start earlier. The reality is, we weren’t experienced enough to keep up.

KABOOM!

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Kaboom!, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Social Media

Incompetence Saturday’s Unethical Quote Of The Day: NBC News Reporter Daniel Arkin

“President Donald Trump returned to one of his most derogatory insults Friday, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” — a jab at her Native American ancestry.”

—-NBC reporter Daniel Arkin, reporting on the President’s speech to the NRA in Atlanta this week.

Now, you might argue that this is very competent smearing by Arkin, abetted by NBC. But let’s assume, just to be nice, or naive, that Arkin wasn’t intentionally falsely suggesting that the President was engaging in racial denigration of Warren’s ancestry. This would mean that he either has done no research on his subject or that he credulously accepts whatever Democrats say.

Now, I will stipulate that calling the Senator playground-level names is unprofessional, uncivil, obnoxious, un-presidential and an ad hominem attack by President Trump. This is one of his many terrible and apparently unalterable habits. Nevertheless, calling Warren “Pocahontas” is not Trump denigrating her “Native American ancestry,” but rather a reference to Warren’s well-documented false claims of having Native American ancestry, claims that she used to get the benefit of affirmative action when she was seeking a position in academia. Warren has no actual Native American ancestry to mock. What is worthy of mockery—though not by the President of the United States–is her fake assumption of a minority personal to benefit her career at the expense of others.

Arkin misrepresented the facts—Warren can produce no evidence that she is even a smidgen Cherokee, as she maintained for years—either to make the President appear to be racist, or because Arkin is a completely incompetent journalist, influenced by confirmation bias to the detriment of his readers.

Dishonest or incompetent? The result is unethical journalism and fake news either way.

_____________________

Pointer: Instapundit

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race

Incompetence Saturday Continues: Those News Stories About President Trump Claiming That Protesters Have No Right To Protest or Violated His Rights Are Fake News

Over 29,000 views, every one making the viewer more ignorant…

This is also cross-filed under “Bias makes you stupid,” a file (and tag) now stuffed to overflowing by the anti-Trump-obsessed, members of “the resistance,” and journalists—but I repeat myself—who are meticulously destroying their credibility and trustworthiness with every manufactured outrage. (For an amusing related video, look here.)

Over at Popehat, First Amendment specialist lawyer/blogger Ken White dutifully defends the President from incompetent and biased reporting, not for the first time, regarding Nwanguma v. Trump, the case pending in federal court in Kentucky where plaintiffs, protesters at a March 1, 2016 Trump rally in Louisville, claim that Trump incited his fans to assault them. Writes Ken, in a statement that echos what has been written on Ethics Alarms many, many times:

“It is not necessary to make things up to paint him as censorious and uninformed about free speech values. Yet here we are again.”

He goes on…

Previously I lawsplained that no, a federal judge didn’t rule that Trump had incited violence, and no, it’s very misleading to say that one of the allegedly violent rally-goers sued Trump for inciting him to violence.

Now, says Ken ruefully, we are seeing stories like this one in Politico, headlined,

Trump lawyer: ‘No right’ to protest at rallies

(The similar headline over my post comes from Charles Johnson, the blogger who exposed Dan Rather’s attempt to use a forged letter in a CBS News report, essentially ending Rather’s career as a legitimate journalist)

This, Ken explains, is untrue. This, Jack explains, is also fake news. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society

Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Facebook, Marketing and Advertising, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet