Oh! THAT’S Why You’re Not Supposed To Touch The Horses!

The incident above is what George Will likes to call “condign justice.”

Signs all over Assateague Island in Maryland tell tourists not to touch the wild horses that are the island’s most famous feature.  They reputedly came from a Spanish galleon that sank close to shore centuries ago. Naturally, some scofflaw jerks who specialize in ruining public parks, beaches and recreation area for everyone else by presuming that rules do not apply to them persist in aggravating the beasts.

This one was spectacularly and appropriately rewarded. Even if this guy’s injuries had been less amusing and more serious, he deserves no sympathy at all.

Extra points to the horse for picking someone who has no business wearing a speedo.

__________________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Somewhere, Steven Bochco Is Smiling…

In Steven Bochco TV legal dramas—the immortal “Hill Street Blues” was the best of them—everyone was sleeping with everyone else in the judicial and law enforcement system. Police chiefs were having affairs with defense attorneys, prosecutors were having affairs with judges, judges were having affairs with defendants. It was ridiculous, if entertaining, but gave an absurdly misleading impression to the gullible public about the legal system. Later, as Bochco’s star was waning, writer-producer David Kelley continued the myth with his many legal dramas

However, this is not to say that such unethical relationships don’t occasionally occur. Bochco, who died in 2018, would like this story, since he could have written it.

Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint against Coffee County District Judge Christopher Kaminski, alleging that he has been carrying on a romantic relationship with an attorney who frequently practices in his court. Continue reading

If Bob Beckel Is Right, Shame On Fox…But Then He Should Have Been Fired Anyway.

Bob Beckel, the Democratic political consultant and campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s horrible run against Ronald Reagan, was one of the original hosts of the Fox News panel show “The Five.” His role was that of the token knee-jerk liberal among knee-jerk conservatives, a job that itself indicates the level of integrity of an annelid worm.  He was fired by the network in May 2017 after allegedly making “an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.”

Now Beckel has gone public with a claim that the reason for his firing was a sham. He told a radio host on a live broadcast, saying in part,

“I’ve decided to use your radio show to be the first time I will say this to anybody, and that is in my view that I was completely set up by someone, and my guess is they may be outside the White House, and I was set up on an absurd, racist comment…People who know me were shocked that that would happen. Well, they were shocked because it didn’t happen.”

Beckel also said that while Michael Cohen was still employed by the President, he had called to warn Becker against saying negative things about Trump, adding,

“Trump and I had known each other for a long time. I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me, that’s fine. But the fact that I was set up like that, no appeal, no chance to make my case … this was not about a racist comment. This was because I was the loudest voice on that network against Donald Trump.

Then Beckel implied that he was taking legal action, and confirmed that by speaking about his firing he had he  violated the terms of his severance agreement with Fox News.

Observations:

  • If the accusation against him was as baseless as Beckel now implies, I don’t understand why he would have failed to challenge the employment action.
  • Unless, that is, Fox New made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, like a lot of money for his acquiescence and silence. Even that makes no sense. Why not pay him to say he’s stepping down for health reasons (have you ever SEEN Bob Beckel?) Why would Beckel ever allow the claim of racist workplace conduct to be the official reason for his leaving?
  • Presidential staff and henchmen complaining about critical journalists (though Beckel is hardly that) is so common through history that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Of course, when Trump is connected to any practice, it is automatically far worse than when any other President did it, so maybe Beckel is counting on that. Cohen, as we all know, is as slimy as they get: would I believe that Cohen try to intimidate Beckel, either on his own or at Trump’s behest? Sure: I’d also believe that he egged Beckel’s house, or mooned him, but if that happened, wouldn’t Beckel be expected to use the episode to embarrass Trump and look courageous by talking about it on TV?
  • Among the many things wrong with this story is Beckel admitting that he’s violated a severance agreement, meaning that he accepted money, presumably quite a bit of money, not to bad-mouth a former employer and then having accepted the deal, did so anyway. “I have broken that agreement, and that’s too bad,” he said in his radio interview, the equivalent of “It is what it is.” What it is iis dishonest, unethical conduct.
  • Beckel was not “the loudest voice on that network against Donald Trump.” His demeanor was unprofessional, his bias was open, and his reasoning was pedestrian: Beckel was like an obnoxious anti-Trump drunk at the corner bar. Juan Williams, who’s no great shakes either, was and is reliably anti-Trump, a far more respectable one. So is Shep Smith, Fox’s #1 newscaster. Beckel, typically for him, is assuming more virtue and importance than he has ever warranted.
  • If Fox dismissed Beckel for his non-conforming views after complaints by the White House, that is cowardly and a breach of journalism integrity. If it manufactured a false excuse for doing so, that’s worse.
  • However, Fox News having Beckel on the air at all was incompetent journalism, though all the news networks employ disgraceful talking heads. Beckel destroyed his credibility, if he ever had any,  when he put his name on commentary on a 2012 Presidential debate that he wrote before the debate took place. When The Five took up the videos by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber in which he admitted that the public had been systematically deceived—the fools!–to get the ACA passed (this was one of those scandals that the Obama administration didn’t have, Joe!), Beckel argued that the lies didn’t matter, because the law was such a good one. (I would have fired him for this alone.)

What’s going on here? Your guess is as good as mine, which is that an over-the-hill denizen of the swamp isn’t getting many offers to opine, so he decided to frame himself as a victim of mean old Fox and Donald Trump.

Morning Ethics Eye-Opener, 7/22/2019: Boycotts, Bushes, And Weenies

Mornin’!

Just trying to think about ethics while I sit calmly by the phone…my doctor wants to tak to me about something. I’m hoping it’s the Red Sox…

1. There is hope: the latest cable ratings show that CNN’s  Brian Stelter’s slot “Reliable Sources” has lost more about 42% of its audience in the last six months. This indicates people must recognize a fake ethicist when they see one. Unlike his predecessor, Howard Kurtz (who had his own problems), Stelter refuses to focus any media criticism on his own network, which is one of the prime journalism ethics offenders extant, and his obsession with Fox News is nearly Media Matters-like. In short, he’s a biased, partisan hack, highlighted by his risible claim that the news media (and sainted CNN, of course) covered the Mueller investigation objectively.

The rotting American mainstream news media desperately needs  objective, credible qualified critics. What it does not need is a fake authority like Stelter, and it is encouraging to see that the audience is reacting accordingly.

2. A Party of Assholes. This is nice: Here’s the statement issued by Virginia Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, Senate Democratic Chair Mamie Locke, House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, and House Democratic Chair Charniele Herring regarding the upcoming commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement.

We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance. The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world. We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back.’

There we see the priorities of the great mass of the Democratic Party since the 2016 election, in which marginalizing the elected President and insulting him (and, not incidentally, his office) at every opportunity for illusory political gain has taken precedence over the best interests of the nation.

I also strongly doubt that the President’s recent deliberately provocative tweets changed anything, as Democrats have been boycotting events where he was scheduled to participate for three years, beginning with his inauguration. They would have found some reason to do this, even without the tweets.

In contrast, at least one Virginia Democrat understands her duty. US Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 2nd District, said

I will attend the Jamestown 400th anniversary of the founding of democracy in America because our democracy is not about the President or Congress—as President Lincoln said, “it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people and it shall not perish from this earth.”

I guess they’ll be calling her a racist now…. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Cooler, 7/21/2019, Because The Last Thing We Need Is A Warm-Up: “Oh, Just Bitching About Stuff” Edition

Hot enough for ya?

1.  THIS should drive my Facebook friends crazy...The latest SurveyMonkey/NBC poll out at the end of last week gives President Trump’s approval rating  at 48%. He reached 49% in a daily YouGov.com poll this month. In short, the concerted effort by Democrats and the news media to tar him as racist (again) as a result of his dumber-than dumb tweet conflating all four Democratic socialist freshmen with Somali immigrant Omar and evoking his alleged “shithole” comments about third-world countries failed (again.)

Yet a) nobody should trust polls, b) “approval/disapproval has a weak correlation at best with voting, and c) there’s a long way to go before November 2020. Still, I am tempted to post the story on Facebook just to evoke the howls of anger and protest I know it will trigger. After all, I have to keep reading, day after day, week after week,  the obsessive posting of the most ridiculous anti-Trump links imaginable. For example, who cares that some Holocaust survivor says that the U.S. today reminds him of “1930s Berlin”? That’s an idiotic, ahistorical, unsupportable opinion whether the opiner is a Holocaust survivor, Hillary Clinton or a man in a rubber room. The statement is no more respectable or worth posting than if he said the U.S. today reminds him of “Avatar,” the Gobi Desert or “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

It’s unethical to post things just to drive people crazy, though. So I won’t.

But I’d like to.

But I won’t.

2. Want to see a clinical example of the kind of people who can’t handle Ethics Alarms? Meet Taffy. I allowed Taffy Marchand’s comment on the Dad-drinking-daughter’s-breast- milk post, and now have had to ban or spam several insulting and/or idiotic comments that followed. Here’s what she wrote:

I am a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. We deal with breast milk all day long. I was taken aback by your consideration that this is, in any way, incestuous. I think that may have more to do with they fact that breastmilk comes from breasts. Which, perhaps you have sexualized to an extreme. If the father was nursing from his daughter that would be in question. She is merely pumping milk and leaving it in a container for him. We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk? Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits. I explain this over and over again to families that mom’s breast milk is the ideal nutrition for her infant, followed by donor breast milk because it is species specific, followed by formula, which is essentially expressed breast milk from another species. Also, I have all the empathy for a family struggling with a cancer diagnosis. I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label. It certainly won’t cause any harm for him to consume breast milk.

  • The post didn’t say that it was incestuous. The quote: “What do we properly call a father consuming his daughter’s breast milk? Is that too close to incest for comfort? Does it matter if it’s close, as long as it isn’t quite?” As is much on the blog, and as the title suggested, the point was to think about ethical distinctions. “Close” to unethical conduct isn’t unethical, is it? Or is it?
  • Breasts are considered sexual equipment and sexually provocative in this culture, and indeed most cultures. Accusing me of “sexualizing them to an extreme” is a cheap shot, and unethical debate tactics.
  • “We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk?” Well, heck, Taffy, why not just use mom and any teenage daughters in the house as cow substitutes, and save dairy expenses?
  • “It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that…” Signature significance for someone who isn’t thinking before they type. I’m not going to take insults from someone capable of writing that…
  • Empathy is irrelevant to the issue raised by the post. It is also the Universal Get Out Of Ethics Problems Free card.
  • “I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label.” No, Taffy, it is never wrong to consider anything. NOT considering uncomfortable possibilities is the path to ignorance and ideological cant. Of course, when your mind is made up and you regard anyone suggesting a different perspective as a pervert, I can see how might miss this.

3. Well, there’s one more museum I can’t trust. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture by the Mall in D.C.  will be showing and old documentary on Angela Davis titled, “Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners.” After the screening Davis will be interviews and answer questions. From Smithsonian’s press release press release:

“We all recognize that Prof. Davis is a figure for the ages, as fascinating to us now as she was at the height of her incarceration and trial” (in 1972)…[hers ]“is a quintessential American story of activism,” and that “because of her activism in support of social justice, she was criminalized and named on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.”

Why, of all places, is the Smithsonian engaging in fake history? From The Bulwark (and many other sources that corroborates this):

[Angela Davis] was tried for purchasing guns for a courtroom raid carried out by her lover George Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, whose use of these guns in a shootout (while attempting to flee) killed one of the four people he had taken hostage, a man named Judge Harold Haley. The purchase of these guns was easily traced to Davis who, rather than surrendering, fled to avoid being captured. She was eventually found at a motel on 8th Avenue in New York City, where she was taken into custody, having been charged by superior court judge Peter Smith with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder.”

Rather than working for civil rights in the manner of Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, or A. Philip Randolph, Davis was a leader of the American Communist Party, and a member of the violent and armed Marxist group, the Black Panther Party. After her arrest, the international Communist movement declared her a martyr and Moscow orchestrated an international group of gullible Europeans who proclaimed her innocence and demanded her freedom. In Communist East Germany, school children were told to write postcards to her expressing their support and solidarity.

At her trial, the jury surprisingly found her innocent even though 20 witnesses had testified against her. Careful investigation later revealed how compromised the jury was. One of the jurors, Mary Timothy, would go on to have an affair with Communist Party member (and head of the official Committee to Free Angela) Bettina Aptheker. Immediately after Davis was acquitted, another jury member faced the reporters and TV networks and gave them the clenched-fist salute regularly used by revolutionaries. That juror, Ralph Delange, explained “I did it because I wanted to show I felt an identity with the oppressed people in the crowd . . . and to express my sympathy with their struggle.”

Great…just what we need: Communist indoctrination at the Smithsonian.


What Is Justice For Kevin Spacey?

 Prosecutors in Massachusetts this week dropped a sexual assault charge against the actor Kevin Spacey, in the only case against the alleged serial sexual harasser to be brought to trial. Mr. Spacey was accused of fondling an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket restaurant three years ago, one of the few of the accusations against him that wasn’t too old to try and that involved criminal conduct. The accuser’s lawyer said that a smartphone being sought as evidence by the defense  had disappeared, then the accuser invoked the Fifth Amendment after being warned that he could be charged with a destroying evidence, a felony if he had deleted contents on his phone. When the young man continued to assert his right against self-incrimination,  the Cape and Islands district attorney announced that it was dropping the prosecution “due to the unavailability of the complaining witness.” There wasn’t much choice.

Spacey’s far from out of the metaphorical woods. Around the same time as the Nantucket accusation, the Old Vic theater in London announced that 20 people had  accused Spacey  of inappropriate behavior  during his 11-year stint as the theater’s artistic director. There is another investigation in Los Angeles.

So now what? None of the allegations against Spacey have been proven, though, as with Bill Cosby, the sheer number of them leave little doubt—but still some— that he is a serial sexual predator. Spacey’s own house of cards began falling when actor Anthony Rapp gave an  interview to BuzzFeed accusing Spacey of assaulting him at a party when Rapp was only 14.  The accusation was never proven, but suddenly more stories of sexual misconduct in the workplace and elsewhere started surfacing regarding Spacey. (There is a lot about Spacey’s conduct and problems on Ethics Alarms, here.) Continue reading

More Breast-Feeding Ethics

As some of the commentary on this post has again shown, there are some topics that many people are incapable of thinking about objectively and dispassionately. Breast-feeding is evidently one of those topics, and by complete coincidence—you think I plan these things?—another breast-feeding controversy has raised its nippled head.

The Dutch airline KLM is under fire for its policy regarding breast-feeding mothers in flight.  The policy is that breastfeeding is allowed onboard as long as no other passengers are offended by the practice. Otherwise, mothers are asked to use a blanket, or retreat to the rest rooms.

“To ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this,” the airline clarified in a tweet this week.

In ethics, this is called a “reasonable and fair policy.” I would have avoided the term “offended.” Mothers who just flip out a breast and allow a kid to chow down in public—sometimes kids as old as five, in one restaurant episode of my own experience—aren’t being offensive; they are just deliberately or negligently making others around them uncomfortable by engaging in an intimate act and exposing body parts that society generally regards as warranting some cover in polite society. No, it’s not offensive. Immodest? Yes. Rude? Yes. Inconsiderate? Yup. Defiant? Sure. It’s also feminist grandstanding. Using a blanket to partially keep the activity between mother and child is hardly an unreasonable  requirement, that is, unless one believes that nobody else matters, and civility is an outmoded construct.

The argument for punishing KLM—of course, there is the threat of a boycott–is pretty much the same from all critics. Well, not all critics: here’s a bad analogy from Chris van Tulleken, a doctor in London:

“For the comfort of passengers from racist or homophobic backgrounds would they ask people to cover skin and identifiers?”

Two thoughts… Continue reading