I’m pretty groggy after one intense early morning seminar, five delayed flights, the long trip home from San Diego, and a midnight arrival back in Virginia, but my ethics alarms seem to be functioning…
1. Today’s air travel ethics saga: I travel as light as possible for trips of two nights or fewer, carrying only my stuffed soft briefcase and a garment bag the is almost empty. I will not become part of the selfish flying hoards who lug ridiculous roller-boards onto the plane, slowing the loading process and hogging the limited storage space. (The airlines should charge passengers for bringing the luggage on board, not for checking it. Morons.) The barely filled garment bag (I wear my suit on the plane) always fits somewhere, and even when they announce that all bags must be checked at the gate because there is no more space in the bins, I have always been allowed to bring my bag on board…until last night. Two rude and officious American gate monitors ordered me to surrender my bag or, they threatened, be forced to take a later flight. (“Hmmm..what does “later flight” mean to American since this flight is late taking off and the other four flights I’ve been booked on this trip were also late?” I queried. They just didn’t listen to what I was saying, and kept reciting the policy that I had to store one bag overhead and another under my seat.
I have always believed that you can’t take bureaucratic bullying passively, so I asked if there was a supervisor I could talk to. There was: a harried middle-aged guy with a bad toupe. He did listen, as I explained that I knew my own travel supplies, and that unless every compartment was filled with cement, I could easily find a place for my bag, because in nearly a hundred flights, I always have. Furthermore, I pointed out that it was unfair to treat me , one of the few passengers who carries minimal baggage as a matter of consideration and ethics, this way when other passengers were abusing the privilege of carry-on luggage. The guy said that he agreed with me, but since he hadn’t seen my confiscated bag, he couldn’t assess whether I was right or his subordinate Gate Nazis were. Having made my stand, I thanked him, and made my way down the jetway.
While I was in line, he caught up to me and handed me my bag. “It hadn’t been checked yet,” he said. “You can try to fit it in the overhead storage.” Translation: “You were right, it was ridiculous to make you check this.” Sure enough, the first open compartment I saw took my bag easily….and be the time I got to may seat mid-aircraft, I counted seven other compartments in which it would have fit easily.
Ethics question: Should I write American to praise the supervisor, who was white and male, or would this expose him to being criticized for over-ruling his two female, one African-American, subordinates in their lock-step, unthinking enforcement of a policy?
2. Appeal to a sadly incompetent authority. I use former Harvard Law School icon Larry Tribe as a guaranteed laugh line in my ethics seminars when I’m discussing the dangers of Twitter. Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, most lawyers are well aware that the combination of Stage 5 Trump derangement and an addiction social media has reduced this once brilliant lawyer into a babbling fool. In addition to embarrassing himself by revealing client confidences via twitter, Tribe has given unwarranted credibility to self-evidently crazy (and false) anti-Trump conspiracy theories. He claimed on Twitter (depressingly, he has over 400,000 followers) last month that President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman had leaked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer. It has been determined that Bezos’ mistress’s brother was the real source, but Tribe’s tweet was still up as of last night. In another instance, Tribe implied that a Russian plane crash in February 2018 was a cover-up of collusion between Trump and Russia: “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday: Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis [sic] friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia. Probably just coincidence. .”
Millian wasn’t on the plane.
Nonetheless, MSNBC has had Tribe on as a guest to assist with the station’s round the clock Trump-bashing five times already in 2019. They introduce him as a renowned legal scholar, and don’t mention that he appears to have lost his mind, and is considered as a sad joke among former colleagues and members of his profession.
This is signature significance for an unethical and untrustworthy news source.
3. More fall-out from McCain’s perfidy. We now know that Senator John McCain was complicit in circulating the discredited Steel memorandum to media sources and others after the President was elected. He was actively promoting the central thesis of the Democratic Party’s effort to undo the election, which is that Trump had conspired with a foreign power to steal an election. The technical name for this is espionage, though treason accurately captures its spirit. McCain was abetting a coup, simply because he hated Trump—with good reason, but statesmen, professionals and adults are supposed to be able to control their personal grudges. This was horrific, irresponsible, indefensible conduct by McCain.
President Trump, stupidly and typically, couldn’t just let this revelation serve as a res ipsa loquitur, and instead has been tweeting out insults to McCain. One conservative blooger asks, “Can you blame him?” Damn right I can. This, in turn, allows the news media (which, as one wag noted, always loved McCain except for the brief period in which he was running for President against Barack Obama, when journalists described him as mean, out-of-touch, old and unstable…) to make the issue Trump’s disrespect for a dead war hero.
I guess this is why most of the mainstream news media is barely reporting what McCain did.
4. Open Forum note: what a great job the commentariat did on yesterday’s Open Forum! Thank-you, bravo, and please—give me some time to work through all of the material.