Ethics Warm-Up On What I Fear Is The Start Of An Unethical Week, 1/27/2020

Just a sinking feeling I have …

…perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I am trying to keep all the plates spinning at home and office despite caring for my temporarily disabled wife and business partner, the urgent need to disassemble the driest Christmas tree in Alexandria (still looks spectacular with the lights on, though!), the sudden breakdown of two crucial appliances, and the fact that I’m incompetent at a lot of the small and crucial tasks that Grace does well.

By the by, the spinning plates act is my favorite metaphor for leadership, management and life…

1. Trump tweets…“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” tweeted our Chief Executive yesterday. What grade level does that one rise to? 6th? 7th? Surely reasonable people are inured to these embarrassing (for him, for us) outbursts after all these years and thousands of stupid tweets. And yet here are Schiff and the Democrats, bellowing that Trump “threatened” him. This, from a shameless demagogue who recently yalked about putting Republican Senators’ heads on pikes.

Essentially Trump’s “threat” consists of “he’ll be sorry!” That’s not even a veiled threat. It isn’t actionable, it isn’t clear. It may refer to karma, or a sudden attack of conscience. Stipulated: It’s wrong for a President to express such sentiments. The knee-jerk impulse of the “resistance” to react to everything the President does like it was proof of treason is self-indicting.

2. The alleged hypocrisy of jet-setting climate change activist celebrities is often overplayed by conservatives, but this is ridiculous. Not to be outdone by whatever she is these days semi-royal Megan Markle and her submissive hubby, Prince Charles polished his climate change alarmist  creds by taking three flights on private jets and a helicopter to hang out with Joan of Arc wannabe  Greta Thunberg. Then, after being blessed by the teenaged saint and making  an impassioned speech, the Man Who Has Been Waiting To  Be King  took a fourth private jet from Switzerland to Israel, making his flight total over 16,000 miles in less than two weeks. His carbon footprint for this odyssey was estimates as being more than 18 times that of the average British citizen’s output for a calendar year.

Here’s a helpful chart, courtesy of the Daily Mail:

“Do as I say, not as I do,” known in the States as “The Bill Cosby Rule,” isn’t ethical.

3. Felicia Sonmez Update. Jim Lehrer’s rules for ethical journalists became immediately relevant yesterday when the Washington Post embraced his rule 14, Journalists who are reckless with facts and reputations should be disciplined by their employers” by suspending the reporter who decided that mere hours after NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s tragic death (along with his young daughter and seven others) in a helicopter crash was an appropriate time to use her Twitter account to point the public to Bryant’s 2003 scandal involving a rape allegation. Further demonstrating dead ethics alarms, Felicia Sonmez doubled down when the Twitter hoards descended on her, tweeting,

“Well, THAT was eye-opening. To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story – which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling…That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn’t even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.’

That may be right as a general proposition, but the day that a much-loved public figure and his teenage daughter die horribly is not the time to prompt that memory, and may I add, what the hell is wrong with you?

What appears to be wrong, other than complete callousness toward Bryant’s family, is that Sonmez wanted to be the first to ingratiate herself to #MeToo zealots by leading the mob to have Bryant “cancelled.”

The reporter finally deleted both tweets, but her supervisors at the Post still announced her suspension, writing, “National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy.The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

I’d say that’s a fair assessment.

4. This academic freedom and First Amendment thingies appear to be too complicated for our higher institutions of learning to figure out. What does that tell us, class?

Babson College adjunct professor and administrator Asheen Phansey was fired after he posted an obviously satirical Facebook post suggesting that the leader of Iran “tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” including a Kardashian home. His post was not the most deft satire—suggesting that the Mall of America in Minnesota be bombed is not very funny—but the post was clearly a parody of President Trump’s tweeted threat of retaliatory attacks on “52 Iranian cultural sites. ”  As stated in a letter of protest signed by hundreds of academics from universities around the nation, “Phansey’s post contained no hint of harassment, incitement to imminent violence, nor any other category of speech outside the safeguards of the First Amendment. His comment had no nexus to his role as a professor or administrator and fell squarely in the category of political speech warranting the highest level of protection. Despite Phansey’s public affirmation that his post was a joke and his fulsome apology for it, Babson officials launched an investigation, also stating that they were cooperating with local, state, and federal authorities on the matter. Babson terminated his employment just one day after announcing the investigation, ostensibly on the grounds that he had made a threat. No reasonable, contextual reading of his remarks could lead to that conclusion. ”

The signatories are right.

5. As Jane Fonda once said about her idological opposite, John Wayne, “The man has guts.” President Trump became the first President of the United States to appear in person at a March for Life. Throwing the prestige of the President behind the anti-abortion movement does take guts: no previous President has been willing to take the political risk.

Naturally, the story was largely ignored by the liberal media.


32 thoughts on “Ethics Warm-Up On What I Fear Is The Start Of An Unethical Week, 1/27/2020

    • How true. Was there anything in the sentence, “Not to be outdone by whatever she is these days semi-royal Megan Markle and her submissive hubby, Prince Charles polished his climate change alarmist creds..” to indicate otherwise?

      • For the record, I had to read it 2 or 3 more times to get the players straightened out. I should have bought a program at the gate.

        And since we are here, Why all this fascination with “the royals” anyway, save maybe to keep alive the example of what a great idea Adams, Washington, Hamilton,etc had so many years ago.

          • I don’t understand it, but I get it. Jim Flahrety, Canada’s Minister of Finance for most of the Harper years, died kind of suddenly. I’d never met the guy, never was even in the same room as him, but I liked his policies, and he had class… I actually got a little emotional when he passed.

          • It’s deeper than run of the mill celebrity worship. Diana mesmerized all women of various ages in the U.S. Her wedding was a big deal. Then she got divorced, hung around with bad boys, and got herself killed. For some reason, almost all women in the U.S. of various ages identified with her.

            The U.S. has a funny desire for royalty. Jackie O. Hillary tried the act but it didn’t work. She just looked like a golf pro’s wife. Of course, they can be royalty. There just seems to be some human desire to deify some strata of society. Weird but omnipresent.

            • I guess just because of bunch of guys in Philly say “No more royals,” that doesn’t change something that’s been part of human psychology for generations and centuries.

            • And there’s the fairy tale princess thing. Oh–the annals of my alma mater state that when I was selected to lead the Gilbert and Sullivan Players, my official position was not President, but King. My sister, also on the board, was officially heir apparent. When I steeped down, I restored the democracy.

        • The Royals are a situation I find intetesting, at least these days. They are essentially a branch of government dedicated to all of the official fippery that the head of state is supposed to handle. It’s not at all what they were when we (rightly) told them to get lost, and it’s kind of a brilliant idea this day and age to have a team of official ribbon cutters and christmas tree decorators and state dinner hosts so that the people doing the governing don’t have to waste time with that.

          But it only works if that team of PR heads of state maintain the prestige equal to a head of state. To that end, the royal family needs to stay in the news, for preference with suitably attractive young people getting married and having cute children between charity work.

          Of course, that means the naturally contrary press and public are desperate to find cracks in that story, and delight when the royals slip up. Even more than typical celebrity gawking, it’s like watching people walk a tightrope in designer clothes.

          The Queen has made a pretty amazing go of it. I’m not sure they’re worth what the British people pay for them (though Royal finances are their own giant mess, with the question of who owns the estates and lands that technically, feudally, “belong” to the family) but I think they’re worth something and that our presidents and first ladies end up bearing a load in the public eye that the British PM foists off on the Royals.

          • I’ve often thought it would be useful to have a generally accepted (Uncle Sam?) figurehead in the U.S. to welcome winning sports teams to ceremonies, gab with the “Whatever of the Year”, pose for photos with Olympians, teachers, hero first-responders, Spelling Bee winners, etc. Much of this falls on the VP, who really doesn’t have much to do, but that carries a partisan flavor. Certain Pomp and Circumstantial occasions (military funerals) require a gravitas that is hard to suddenly confer on a figurehead, without the history that Britain has with a Royal family.

      • The phrasing implies that Prince Charles is naming the submissive hubby. Instead of the usual listing like ‘A, B, and C went jetting around’ you used ‘A and B, C’ which made that there were 3 people unclear. It’s the same confusion if you say ‘Mary Shelley and the guy who swam the Hellespont, George went to a house party. I was assuming the cartoon was misleading as I doubt Charles is as gungho on Greta.

        • I know I’m being stubborn, but “Not to be outdone by whatever she is these days semi-royal Megan Markle and her submissive hubby, is clearly a phrase modifying “Prince Charles”, and the two individuals In that phrase are not the subject of the sentence, correct? This is just a variant structure for
          “Prince Charles, not to be outdone by whatever she is these days semi-royal Megan Markle and her submissive hubby, polished his climate change alarmist creds by taking three flights on private jets and a helicopter to hang out with Joan of Arc wannabe Greta Thunberg.” Obviously the latter is what I should have used since so many misunderstood, but I just diagrammed the sentence. It’s correct.

  1. Ahh, punctuation got me at first as well.

    Reminds me of a colleague who wrote, “I’m giving up drinking for a month”.
    Followed with, “My mistake, improper punctuation”.
    And corrected it. “I’m giving up. Drinking for a month”.

  2. I hope your wife is better soon, Jack.

    1. Trump treats the left like they have treated all their enemies for years, if not decades. They don’t like it, can’t take it, and show what petty little bullies they are every time he does what they do (but better.) Progressives had had everything their way so long they have gone soft, and cannot take what they dish out. (Trump still could act more, er, presidential)

    2. This is why we know we can ignore the chicken little climate alarmists… they buy houses they predicted would be underwater by now, or in the near future. They fly all over the world while telling me to not limit my ‘carbon footprint,’ which is 1/1000th of their jet setting ways. It’s all transparent bullshit, and smacks of ‘laws are for the little people.’

    3. Good. Until progressives are made to eat their own dogfood, it insanity will continue. this is true of free speech and the way up to bicycle locks upside the head.

    4. Free speech, meh. Prof stepped off the plantation and must be taken out ‘to encourage the others.’ See answer to # 3 above.

    5. Progressives have a good reason to be afraid for their baby killing ways. We ARE coming for Roe-v-Wade. Great medical advances and imagery means we can watch in gross detail what they do to the most defenseless people on our planet, all for convenience.

    They are simply on the wrong side of history.

  3. Re: Spinning Plates Shtick.

    I’m going to assume the clip above is not the guy who used to do it on “The Ed Sullivan Show” when we were kids. That act was much more straight forward and more entertaining, more tension.

    I thought the act was just plain weird as a kid, as were so many acts on Ed brought over from Europe, but in the ’80s, my best buddy during my big firm days and I used it to describe the diversionary and misdirection techniques used by a very bright to the point of maniacal real estate partner in the firm when running a conference room negotiation. He’d mentally zip around from issue to issue until eventually everyone in the room would unwittingly agree to everything he’d been proposing. Everyone was so worried that one of the plates he was spinning would fall, they didn’t see what he was up to. It was better than watching the guy on Ed Sullivan.

    My preferred metaphor for having too much to do is “busier than a one-armed paper hanger.”

  4. To paraphrase the old disclaimers when one was caught out subscribing to Playboy:

    “I only watch for the car crashes”

    These days, I just wait for the media to show the clip on some clickbait site, though…

  5. I worry about Greta.She was picked up and publicized by a new climate startup, We Don’t Have Time. One of the early photos of Greta siting outside government buildings was an arranged photo shoot with people WDHT hired to make a small crowd around her, claiming she had followers. They seeded Twitter, FB, and other sites with photos and articles, and she trended.

    She has people with power backing her, obviously, and both her parents are involved in the publicity as well. Is she strong enough for this? She was diagnosed with depression at 9, is on the spectrum, and has an eating disorder. If she eats a trigger food (the disorder is texture-related) she shuts down and may not eat for a month. The current attention has given her focus and she seems to be handling it, but I can’t help but wonder what happens when the fame fades.

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