Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/2018: The Bad, The Beautiful, And The Stupid

Good morning, everyone…

1. Tales of the King’s Pass. Fox News put out a statement saying that Sean Hannity had its “full support.” We can assume that means no punishment, no sanctions, not even any public regrets, despite the fact, and it is a fact, that the right-wing talk-show host-turned-Trump propagandist went on the air and defended Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, without mentioning the fact that Hannity was Cohen’s client. Thus Fox is announcing, in effect, that undisclosed conflicts of interest are just fine and dandy if your ratings are good enough. This also means that Fox News is admitting that it really doesn’t care about candor, honesty, and objectivity, since it will ignore blatant violations of all three if the profit is sufficient.

In fairness to Fox, Hannity’s blatant biases toward all things Trump are no more egregious than the open Obama bias displayed across the mainstream media’s full spectrum of journalists and pundits; it just stands out more because he has less company. However, this is a specific conflict of interest, with Hannity having undisclosed connections to a newsmaker that could reasonably affect his commentary. The closest parallel would be ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reporting on the Clinton Foundation’s dubious activities without telling viewers that he was a $75,000 donor. ABC didn’t discipline him, either, but at least he made a public apology on the air.

To make the King’s Pass case even stronger, after Politico reported this week that dinnertime news anchor Bret Baier played nine holes of golf with President Trump over the weekend, Fox News acknowledged that Baier was admonished by the president of the network.  I don’t agree with the reprimand at all. The opportunity to spend that kind of time with a President is invaluable, a rare opportunity to acquire insight and access over an extended period of time. The idea, I assume, is that it creates the illusion of chumminess. It’s a dumb illusion. If I were a journalist,  I would play golf with anyone if it allowed me to learn something. If I were president of a network, I’d reprimand a reporter for turning down such an opportunity.

2. The Virtue-Signaling Hall Of Fame. Starbucks is reacting to the PR nightmare arising out of the arrest of two black men for refusing to order anything while waiting for a companion in a Philadelphia Starbucks by a grand gesture: it will close all U.S. stores and corporate offices on the afternoon of May 29 for “employee racial bias training.” I suppose this is good crisis management, though cynical and non-substantive. It also permanently tars as a racist the Starbucks ex-manager, who says she was following a locale-specific company policy in an area that had experienced problems with loitering.

Ace of Spades has a well-reasoned and argued take on the episode, although it is one that assumes the least sympathetic stance toward the two men imaginable, Ace being Ace. I am not prepared to conclude, as he does, that this is “a contrived, made-up racial controversy.” Everyone is leaping to conclusions without sufficient knowledge about what occurred. Read it all, but I will highlight some of his  points:

Restaurants/coffee shops like Starbucks exist, in case the Social Justice Warriors weren’t aware of this, to sell things to paying customers…

The individuals here were not paying customers. They were free riders, permitted in the store only due to the indulgence of the manager and his desire to not make a scene. Rather than accepting that their presence was merely tolerated as an indulgence, they decided to take it up another notch by asking for the bathroom code, despite (I’m pretty sure) signage indicating that bathrooms were for paying customers only.This is the standard way these shops operate. They do not wish to become private unfunded homeless shelters, providing indoor chairs and bathroom facilities for transients.

…[The men] were then told to leave, which is Starbucks’ right — again, the table and chairs and space are provided as a courtesy to paying customers, not anyone who just wants to get off the street and use the business as an office-away-from-home as they wait for another party, who would probably also be a nonpaying noncustomer. I say that because if they planned on staying at Starbucks, they shouldn’t have been so resistant to just paying for a tea.

…Black people often claim that white people don’t listen to them or don’t believe them about cops and businesses hassling them. Well, let me note that goes in the other direction: I and most white people here can attest that this rule — no bathroom use for nonpaying noncustomers– also applies to white people, and I’ve been denied the code or the key most of the times I’ve asked to use the bathroom without first paying. Sometimes I’ll say “I have to go to the bathroom, but I’ll order as soon as I’m out,” and they give up the code, and then I order. This is not a Black People Only rule….

…They refused to leave, now announcing themselves as squatters, and so the manager called the cops to escort them out — which is what any business would do when their quite lawful and understandable rule that you either buy something or leave is ignored.

…They also apparently believe that the claim “I’m waiting for a friend” somehow gives them the right to remain uninvited and unpaying in someone else’s establishment. They also seem to not realize that if they just went outside and waited for their friend there, their friend would of course see them as he approached the doors to enter.


…I don’t believe the cops had any intent to arrest these guys; they had the intent to get them to leave, per the owner’s lawful request that they do so. I think it was their refusal to do so that escalated this from a “Move on” situation to a “Now we’re taking you in” situation.

… But this is of course racism because the people being asked to move on were black. Once upon a time, the civil rights movement was dedicated to ensuring that blacks were treated no differently than whites by police and businesses; now it seems dedicated to ensuring they are treated differently — with greater latitude and indulgence. Because yes, white people are denied the right to use bathrooms all the time, and no, white people cannot just set up shop in a private business without paying for anything without being asked to either buy something or find someplace else to go.

Here is the highlight of Ace’s commentary:

Now Starbucks is saying this was all contrary to their policy and, presumably, anyone who wants to sit in their shops and not order anything and use the bathrooms has the right to do so as long as they like…Starbucks, in other words, has just announced its stores are not stores primarily, but are now privately-funded shelters and bathroom facilities for the homeless. You don’t have to spend a slim dime in the store to sit as long as you please and use the bathrooms.That’ll be great for Starbucks’ business. Their yuppie douchebag clientele love the homeless in the abstract, but we’ll see how much they appreciate their coffee shops being jammed with them, close-up-like, occupying most tables and chairs. I don’t even want to defend Starbucks; I want them to have the full taste of Social Justice Warrior progressivism. If this is the company’s ideology, then they should live that ideology to the full.

I have a hard time seeing how Ace’s forecast doesn’t come true.

3.  Progress, healthy, or capitulation to political correctness? Who The Hill selected for its annual list of the “Most Beautiful” people on Capitol Hill would make my version of the George S. Kaufman MT. Palomar telescope standard. Such lists are idiotic, always tainted with bias and various agendas, and the journalistic equivalent of Count Chocula cereal. Now The Hill has announced that it is killing its popular feature, and not saying why, which is cowardly.

I assume it is being ended because celebrating people for their physical attractiveness is now taboo, and an offense to progressive sensibilities. Is that a good reason to end it, or a bad one? Is this just a long-overdue elimination of something that should never have existed in the first place, or more Leftist mind-control, aimed at preventing politically incorrect thoughts and attitudes?

Let’s have a poll!

The last poll result, on whether “The Wanderer” is now politically incorrect and inappropriate,  showed zero out of 93 voters taking the anti-“Wanderer” position.

4. He never made the Hill’s list...Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tx) resigned. Good! The details are here.

I wrote about whether he needed to resign in 2014, and reached the conclusion that he wasn’t at that point yet. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Right now, I’m thinking that any Congress member that allows this kind of photo to be taken should resign for the good of the nation.


Duck pajamas

30 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/2018: The Bad, The Beautiful, And The Stupid

  1. I know it is wrong, but I would love to see some obnoxious hate group organize a sit-in at Starbucks for weeks. Maybe the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church will think of it. I want to see them have Domino’s pizza and drinks delivered to the restaurants so they can sit there all day taking up every single seat in the place and not have to spend a dime on Starbuck’s. I am tired of companies that will throw their own employees under the bus to appease the perpetually offended and I would enjoy seeing him suffer PR disaster after PR disaster. I do realize it is wrong because of the innocent people who would be collateral damage, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a CEO have to suffer for the predictable result of such posturing.

    • The Ace observation makes an interesting point about leftism. They really do want to commandeer private enterprise and make it a free, public asset. Think of Obama scolding business people by telling them “you didn’t build that!” What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine. Ironically, Starbucks management are acting like useful idiots. They are going to take the lead in making their stores public facilities. This is what’s happened to public libraries. If you’ve been in one in the last ten years or so, you’ll find out that as a result of the efforts of homeless advocacy groups, public libraries are now air conditioned homeless hangouts. A real loss for kids. I used to love going to the public library as a kid. I wouldn’t let my grand kids near one now without adult company. And the librarians have been turned into homeless sitters. And the bathrooms are now public bath houses. Good luck with your virtue signalling, Starbucks. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Another way to go would be to get blacks to go to Starbucks and demand free drinks and food as a form of reparations for slavery. In fact all minorities should go to businesses owned by non-minorities and just hang out and get free stuff until everything is fair for everyone always.

      I’m sure that will work.

  2. With increasing frequency, your “Morning Warm-up” vid is a Golden Anniversary selection that I vividly recall listening to on my handle-bar affixed transistor radio while delivering the Milwaukee Journal.

    Even though Newton’s superbly melodic rendition was a cover of 1968’s MERRILEE RUSH AND THE TURNABOUTS Top 10 single.

    1- I recall one of my faves, Mike Royko, regularly discussing his scrupulous avoiding of any ”illusion of chumminess.”

    4- The 1st time I saw that picture of Farenthold, my immediate thought was ”HERE’S your standard stock shot of a PERV.”

    My second thought, or rather an extension of the first, was this guy’s FAR too effin’ stupid to hold public office.

  3. Any idea WHERE in Texas this guy is from? Just going by the picture, I don’t want to even inadvertently visit a place with a majority of voters dumb enough to vote for this…person.

      • Oh, my word! Three-quarters of a million people, 40% white and 52% Hispanic, and various other ethnicities. However, begs the question: who in their right mind would vote for this clown? . I once lived in Corpus…lovely town and a great place to live…then.

  4. Gotta say, from this distance, I’m on the side of the guys who refused to leave, not because they refused to leave, but because so much of Starbuck’s business was built on folks waiting to meet with other folks…none of whom know if any of them are going to actually order anything. It’s just that so many of the people waiting or those soon to arrive order enough in general to not hassle anyone who is in fact waiting and not (yet) ordering. I’ve done this (white older guy who dresses well) hundreds of times. No one ever asked me a thing at Starbucks or any other coffee shop.

    It seems to me race may really be the issue here.

    Reminds me of the wedding I attended where I was the only white person there (yes, really). During my two hour time at the reception I was asked no fewer than 6 times if I was a guest of the bride or groom. (It was the groom, a co-worker.) Why did they ask me so many times? Because I was, comparatively, out of place (white). These guys at Starbucks may have been, too. That reality does not make it right or ethical.

    • I can honestly say I have never waited to meet someone in a store or restaurant without planning on buying something. I’m stunned it isn’t universally accepted that this is wrong and unfair. I wouldn’t arrest someone who did, or even provoke an incident over it. Still, on this Ace is quite correct. It fails the “what if everybody did it?” test.

      • Jack: Do you disagree Starbucks business model, at least in part, is built on this sort of circumstance? (Folks meeting a mutually convenient place for business purposes.) There is no indication any of the people in this situation were or were not going to buy anything once all were gathered.

        It seems, with the information at hand, like an over reaction of the Starbucks employees because the guys waiting stuck out in the crowd.

        • I agree with the last part.

          The Starbucks model was based on the assumption that those who would hang out there would also buy coffee, and in fact would feel obligated to do so. Otherwise, they are walking into the Tragedy of the Commons. Maybe they really were this naive. But if squatters feel no obligation to buy, and people too poor to buy just hang out, the model is doomed.

          • The stores are strategically placed (and the product priced, and the music purposefully selected) to appeal to people of a certain income level and hipster tastes. Through a racial lens, that means they’re mostly after whites, although I’m sure they wouldn’t say such a thing. Sounds like they built a few too many locations, and the riff-raff aren’t staying in their lane and hitting up the McCafe.

            I really can’t afford to drink $5 bean-water myself, but friends and contacts keep wanting to meet me at Starbucks (an aside: Christians universally LOVE Starbucks even though its Schultz loathes them with the passion of a thousand exploding suns.) I often find myself waiting to meet someone there, and usually buy something immediately to justify a seat (iced chai, no Oprah, please. Also, “chai” just means “tea”…”chai tea” doesn’t make sense, Starbucks.)

          • I should have been more specific. The brand and model (when self-employment became big in the 1990s) is somewhat dependent on their locations being meeting places, including wifi. It appears they knowingly took the risk of the potential for their facilities suffering from the tragedy of the commons in the hopes their products and the brand culture would catch on. Fortunately for them, it did.

  5. Another issue to write about.

    (CNN) — A prominent gay rights attorney who led lawsuits legalizing same-sex marriage set himself on fire in Brooklyn on Saturday morning in a fatal plea for action on issues related to the environment.
    The body of David S. Buckel, 60, was found near Prospect Park’s baseball fields about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday after a passerby reported a severely burned individual, the New York Police Department said.
    “I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide,” read a handwritten suicide note, according to the New York Daily News. “I apologize to you for the mess.”

  6. Re: No. 3: Starbucks Disaster.

    I see that Starbucks is in full-force crisis management mode, and handling it very badly. The CEO was talking to Don Lemons on CNN the other night. I thought he was going to break into tears. There seems to be a lot more to this story than what is being reported. I say this because these stories don’t happen in a vacuum.

    It seems that the Starbucks manager overreacted, right? Before casting asparagus, let’s take a step back and ask, “What happened?”

    The reporting is that two black men were asked to leave because they were loitering in the store without buying a beverage (I recommend the caffé mocha – tasty). They said they would when their partner arrived. The manager proceeded to call the police to have them removed. The police arrived and arrested them. Now, these two fellows are dressed casually but clean and respectable (the comments to the GMA story below make a big deal out of how they are dressed), and seemed calm and cooperative with the police. One wonders: Why were they arrested for sitting at tables? It looks like an overreaction, no? But, is that the whole story?

    Then, I watched this interview with Robin Roberts (including her sighs of exasperation) on Good Morning America:–abc-news-topstories.html

    At about the 3:25 mark, Roberts asks Donte Robinson about the meeting, and he said it was a real estate deal, and “we’ve been working on this for months”. I am not sure if that meant they have been working on the real estate deal for months or if they had been meeting at Starbucks on this deal for months (probably the former but it got me thinking). Yet, as I watch the cellphone videos, I am struck by a couple of things. The first is, these fellows are sitting at two tables inside the store. Unless this store is very different from other Starbucks stores, the inside of the store is fairly small, with limited seating. Taking up two tables inside the store is a bit rude, no?

    The next thing is: Starbucks offers free wi-fi for its patrons. That is a big deal for some people who work at the tables while enjoying a beverage (I typically don’t work at the tables; I play Candy Crush or Panda Pop which don’t require wi-fi even though my cellphone automatically connects to it when I am there enjoying my caffé mocha).

    So, I wonder: do these guys have a habit/history of going to that store, using the restrooms but not purchasing beverages (clearly the recommended caffé mochas), meeting to discuss business, using the store’s wi-fi, taking up tables for paying customers, and then leaving? Was that the back story? Is that why the manager asked them to order something or leave? If that is the case, then did the manager act in appropriately? Was race really a factor?

    Starbucks is planning on closing all of its stores for a diversity training session sometime in May. If I were an employee, I would ask the diversity trainers this: “What, exactly, is a store manager supposed to do in this situation?”


  7. Jack: Thank you for reminding me of some of my favorite hair!
    (Juice Newton’s)
    I agree with your point about Brett Baier, playing golf with TRUMP.

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