As the Happy Holidays countdown continues…
1. More trivial ethics: Watching Season #2 (2015) of the excellent Stephen Bochco procedural “Murder One,” my wife and I were stunned to hear an expert witness in the trial of one of the teenage shooters in a school bus mass murder point out, while noting that most sociopaths don’t kill people, the Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were examples of very successful sociopaths. It’s very unusual to see favored progressive narratives challenged in television dramas. Of course, this would have been an opportunity for Trump-bashing had the show been filmed a couple of years later.
2. Ew. Matthew Lebsack, an 18-year employee of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., defecated on a train-car knuckle three years ago, threw feces-covered toilet paper out of the locomotive window, and informed his manager that he had left a “present” for him. Lebsack’s co-workers cleaned up his droppings using bottled water and paper towels.
At the investigation hearing, Lebsack admitted the specifics of the incident and apologized for his behavior. He claimed he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and his wife had just left him at the time of the incident.
I wonder why?
Yeah, that justifies throwing one’s poop around the workplace. Lebsack was fired, shockingly. His union, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, or SMART appealed and the matter was sent to an arbitration board.
The arbitration board found that firing “was too harsh.” That’s good to know, just in case a clueless ethics class frustrates me so much I decide to take a dump on the podium. Lebsack’s medical and psychological issues were deemed to be sufficient mitigation that board ordered Lebsack to be reinstated once he successfully completes a physical and a psychological evaluation. Union Pacific appealed to vacate the decision and SMART sought to enforce it.
U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher ruled that, under the Railway Labor Act, he was without authority to review the merits of the board’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Buescher said the arbitration board’s decision fell within its discretion, although he admitted that he didn’t understand its reasoning.
“This court is puzzled how the arbitration board in this matter came to the conclusion that Mr. Lebsack’s actions of purposely defecating on the knuckle of his train and leaving his feces for others to clean up somehow did not constitute conduct worthy of upholding his termination,” Buescher wrote. “As a train engineer, Mr. Lebsack operates large pieces of equipment through public spaces in our country… Upon being given such an important charge that can impact the well-being and safety of the public, Mr. Lebsack should be expected to have better judgment than that which he exhibited.”
3. Oh, sure, this is just what we need...Tara McGowan is the creator of a network of digital newspapers called Courier Newsroom. They are fake news papers, to be precise. Their purpose is to mimic the “fake news” that Russian, Lithuanians and trolls used on social media during the 2016 election, but her organization, Courier Newsroom, will be planting left-wing messages and false stories to defeat President Trump and Republicans. The network has already launched newspapers in six swing states: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
She claims to have 25 million dollars for the effort, or about ten times what the Russians allegedly spent.
Tara has no ethics at all, apparently, based on her comments, like “There’s no regulations. Misinformation not only runs rampant but is now being condoned by the most powerful social media platform in the world.” How many rationalizations do you see in that sentence? I count three, plus factual distortion. Facebook doesn’t “condone” misinformation, it just properly recognizes that one person’s “lie” is another’s opinion. But Tara is a progressive, so such nuances naturally escape her: she’d prefer that all opposition voices be silenced. Failing that, she has concluded that it is fair to intentionally use Facebook’s advertising tools to seek out a specific audience of readers who can be confused and manipulated by fake news.
I would identify this group as “independent social media-using morons so gullible that they need 24-hour observation to survive a week,” and I don’t think they are the key to winning any election, but Hillary Clinton does.
Here’s one more rationalization from the smugly righteous and ethics-challenged Ms. McGowan: “A lot of people I respect will see this media company as an affront to journalistic integrity because it won’t, in their eyes, be balanced. What I say to them is, Balance does not exist anymore, unfortunately.”
4. More proof, as if any more were necessary, that posting on Twitter indicates a lack of life competence and a death wish.
International affairs professor Tom Nichols, who teaches at US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, for some weird reason decided to opine on Indian cuisine on Twitter, writing,
“Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t…I think people often pretend to like non-American cuisines as a way of showing sophistication. I’m honest enough to say that my mostly Irish taste buds can’t handle whatever it is that is called “Indian” in the US and UK. You may all continue with your outrage now”
He was promptly pounced upon by the Social Media Furies, who accused him of being everything from an idiot to a racist, and his needlessly provocative outburst justified racist attacks on all white American, since he was obviously speaking as a qualified representative.
Possessed by the same irresistible impulse, ABC senior reporter Terry Moran tweeted that “Chinese food is tired. It’s boring, gloppy, over-salted and utterly forgettable.”
Same result, of course, One person replied to his tweet: “Oh Lord here we go again with bubble-inhabiting white guy, announcing his pathetic ignorance of an entire cuisine and its myriad regional varieties.”
I’d estimate that there are at least five contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination who, if elected, will make sure that similar tweets like those from Nichols and Moran will be considered hate speech and justify dismissal, if not prosecution.
Hate speech, you know.
5. Speaking of Twitter, here’s today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” note. From Newsbusters:
Washington Post editor Marty Baron loves to claim his newspaper isn’t all about defeating (or removing) President Trump. “We’re not at war, we’re at work,” he claims. But what if we took a look at the official main Twitter page for The Post? Would we find a war with Trump? The answer is: Yes.
On Thursday, November 21, the Post was covering the last day of Adam Schiff’s impeachment hearings, as well as the previous night’s Democrat presidential debate on MSNBC (co-sponsored by the Post). In the 24 hours of Thursday, the Post’s main Twitter page posted 183 tweets (including retweets). This is what we found:
— Seventy of those (38 percent) were focused on impeachment. Another 29 tweets (16 percent) were about Trump or his administration. The impeachment tweets were (almost by definition) overwhelmingly negative – they all seemed to try to build momentum for removing the president from office. The most popular tweet (with more than 5,700 likes) was “Fiona Hill shows how Trump and Republicans function as Putin’s useful idiots.”
Nineteen of the 29 non-impeachment tweets about Trump were identifiably anti-Trump, and the other ten were more neutral. One negative tweet was “Trump took credit for opening a Mac factory. It’s been open since 2013.” (The Post story elaborated: “On Wednesday, the company announced it had broken ground on a $1 billion, 3 million-square-foot campus that is expected to open in 2022 and initially house 5,000 employees.”)
— In contrast to that 54 percent, the MSNBC-Post Democrat debate drew only 17 tweets (nine percent).
Another five tweets could be defined as about Democrats, so that would get you to 12 percent. Many debate tweets were neutral or positive, such as “Beating Trump, rather than beating up on each other, was focus of fifth Democratic debate.” One tweet/article criticized Bernie Sanders for a “wrong” answer on “Lock him up” chants (he wouldn’t condemn them). One non-debate tweet/article noted Deval Patrick had only two people turn up at an event at Morehouse College.
…[O]ther sections of the Post were an afterthought to the main Post account. There were nine tweets about sports. There was only one tweet about local politics, and that linked to an article touting how high Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser’s approval ratings are. (There were another two tweets about Baltimore politics.)
— Of 183 tweets, 56 (30 percent) were explicitly marked as “Opinion,” “Perspective,” or “Analysis,” or marked with shout-outs to opinion sections Post Opinion or Post Everything. Some of these were opinions on non-political topics (like sports).
…When Marty Baron goes to college campuses and lectures [that] Team Trump wants to disqualify the press as “an independent arbiter of fact,” and “we have to agree on a baseline set of facts, like what happened yesterday? And at the moment, we can’t seem to agree on that, that everything is viewed through a partisan lens, and that’s really disturbing.” It’s apparently not a “partisan lens” when the Post is tweeting these pieces:
And, from Dana Milbank: “Republicans have a new enemy — truth itself.”