Mid-Day Ethics Mitigations, 9/8/2020: Flip-Flops, Trust, China, And Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah [Corrected]

1. Stipulated: President Trump contradicts himself, misrepresents facts and exaggerates routinely. But how can Biden supporters use that as their rationalization? Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly promised to ban fracking during the primaries; now, campaigning in Pennsylvania where fracking means jobs and business, both are suddenly pro-fracking.

On August 13, Biden said that he would call for a nationwide face mask mandate. “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum,” Biden said . “Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives.” Kamala Harris, like Biden a lawyer, agreed. “That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership. Which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives.”

Biden reiterated his vow in his acceptance speech on the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. “We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said on August 20. “It’s a patriotic duty.” Of course, any second year law student and probably some astute college freshmen could have told the Democratic ticket that the government can’t require citizens to wear anything, and that the two were talking Constitutional nonsense aimed at the Bill of Rights-challenged members of the Democratic base, which is most of it.

Then over the weekend,  Biden admitted that his mask edict would probably be unconstitutional. “Here’s the deal, the federal government…there’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government could issue such a mandate, I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden said.

Didn’t he and Harris already know this? If not why not; in fact, why the HELL not? Why wasn’t the news media “factchecking” Biden when he made a manifestly impossible pledge?

There is no advantage or ethical superiority in saying things that are untrue some of the time as opposed to doing it more often. Any politician who shows a lack of integrity, whose words can’t be relied upon and who changes his supposed views depending on what audience is listening to him or her is untrustworthy, and untrustworthy is untrustworthy. You are either worthy, or you’re not. Two instances like the fracking and mask reversals are enough to know Biden and Harris are not candidates who mean what they say. (You should have figured that out already, though.)

And, of course, sometimes if they DO mean what they say, it’s disturbing. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics, 9/6/2020: Dog Food, A T-Rex, An Astronaut, The Pope…But No 2020 Campaign Items Whatsoever! Let’s Hear A Little Applause!

1 . Boy, the Pope must hate the U.S. media. ‘Did you hear that four people say the President called our soldiers “losers”? It’s true! They really say that!’

Pope Francis called gossiping a “plague worse than COVID” and risks dividing  the Catholic Church. The devil, he says, is the “biggest gossiper.” who is seeking to divide the church with his lies.

Francis was discussing a Gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy calls this the “fraternal correction” of priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public. You know; like when they sexually abuse children. “Gossip” apparently means “talking about things the Church is trying to cover-up.”

Got it, Your Holiness!

2. Proposition: It’s unethical to buy your dog’s food at the Dollar Store. Sunshine Mills Inc., an Alabama-based pet food company, issued a recall of its dog food this week due to the levels of Aflatoxin, a toxic mold by-product with  the potential of making dogs sick, according to a Food and Drug Administration news release. The products recalled are  FAMILY PET Meaty Cuts, Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavors;  HEARTLAND FARMS Grilled Favorites Beef Chicken & Cheese Flavor; and HAPPY LIFE Butcher’s Choice Dog Food. All are sold exclusively at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores.

I wonder if they sell baby food? Continue reading

Ann Althouse Meets Spuds: On Althouse Saturday, Two Canine Ethics Questions From The Blogger I’ve Been Meaning To Answer

Our rescue dog Spuds is gradually coming into his own now: after being starved by his previous owner, he finally is secure enough to leave some food in his dish and finish it later. He’s also finding his inner puppy at 2 and a half, which is both challenging for us as he gets stronger, and fun. I honestly don’t know how we went so long without a dog in our home after Rugby left us.

Ann Althouse, whose opinions have been unusually visible on Ethics Alarms today,  raised two dog-related ethics issues since we adopted Spuds last month, and since the dog left me panting by running me over hill and dale this morning as I allowed him to run off leash for the first time, addressing them now seems like a timely task.

(As I type this, Spuds is trying to climb onto my desk…)

1. On August 23, Althouse wrote,

Why don’t the people who think you should get a “rescue” dog when you want a dog also think you should get a “rescue” child when you want a child? In fact, isn’t the argument for adopting an older child with special needs even stronger than the argument for adopting an older dog that hasn’t had the advantages of a loving home and careful training? After all, many dogs are euthanized, but we strive to keep all our children alive even when they have terrible behavioral problems. And dogs are kept under the control of owners all their lives, while children become adults and are allowed to move about freely in the world even when they are quite dangerous. It’s therefore especially important to take great care of all of the children who have been born into this world.

People will say that they want their own biological offspring, but what makes you think what you have to give genetically is so wonderful? Dog breeders have much higher standards selecting which dogs to use for breeding. People just decide to use themselves. When you have your own biological children, you’re picking yourself because you are yourself. I’m not saying that’s wrong. In fact, I think it’s quite beautiful, making something out of your own body and the body of a person you love. So I’m beginning to see the answer to my question. When you have your own child, you’re not being a eugenicist, looking for the ideal baby. You’re accepting the randomness of who you happen to be and who you’ve found to love. The baby grows out of that is more like a rescue dog than a breeder’s dog.

I do think Althouse answered her own question., at least the human part. Having a child (or many) with someone you love is part of the human experience, helps bind couples and society together, and is a spiritual as well as a natural biological act. Of course, that description assumes a lot: that the child was planned, that the parents love each other, that they are married, and that there are no known toxic hereditary traits to avoid. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/28/2020: A Bad Couple Of Months For Museums And Sexual Predators

Good morning!

1. Related to absolutely nothing anyone is currently thinking about...I was re-watching “Spotlight” to remind myself that the news media sometimes does its job, and again was reminded how Hollywood constantly makes Americans more ignorant by its sheer arrogance and laziness. The film, which reasonably accurately recounts how the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team broke the story of the extensive Catholic Church cover-up of pedophile priests, a scandal still unfolding now, 20 years later, has a scene in which a lawyer who represents the victims of such priests tells a reporter that he’s effective because he’s an “outsider.” “I’m Armenian,” he says. “How many Armenians do you know in Boston?” Having been brought up in Boston, I know that the answer to this question is “A LOT.” Boston was a center of Armenian immigration at the turn of the 20th Century, and its Armenian community, in the city and especially the suburbs, is huge and influential. There are many Armenian organizations as well. In Arlington, Mass., where my family lived, Armenian-Americans were prominent in business and government. The little side street where we lived, Brunswick Road, had ten families living on it: the Marshalls, the Gares, and the Moreland,  the Zeffs (who were Jewish, then two Sakoians, the Nazarians, the Catherians, the Berbarians, and the Masmanians. Just Googling “Boston Armenian conmmunity” would have let the film-makers know the scene was nonsense, and they couldn’t be bothered.

2. And speaking of  sexual predators…the cover-up of sexual predators in the coaching ranks for Olympic sports is being exposed slowly but surely.  Last month a lawsuit was filed against Richard Callaghan, an elite American figure skating coach best known for coaching Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and coaching Todd Eldredge to a world title and six national championships. The suit alleges ongoing sexual abuse of one skater that endured over two decades. Callaghan’s victims were male, not female, but the story is familiar: parents guilelessly entrust their talented athletic children to mentor/coaches in swimming, skating, and gymnastics, without considering for a moment what attracts many of these people to working with children and teens.

Another sport that is coming to terms with a sexual predator is equestrian competition.  George Morris, an Olympics equestrian coach known as  a “kingmaker” for his success with riders,  was barred for life from the sport by the United States Equestrian Federation  based on an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct He is now facing lawsuits filed this month by two people claiming that he raped them as teenagers. Jimmy Williams, another  riding coach who guided many Olympians and  was also named in a lawsuit by a woman who said Williams had sexually assaulted her from the ages of 12 to 17.  Though Williams died in 1993, he was recorded as barred for life from the federation in 2018—yes, a dead man was banned for life— after an investigation by The New York Times revealed accusations by nearly a dozen women, including the Olympian Anne Kursinski, that he had preyed upon them as girls.

Parents are so desperate to live vicariously through their offspring that they willingly hand their kids over to the care of predators. I’m sorry to say this, but absent thorough, thorough investigation, it is irresponsible to trust these coaches. The history and what we know of human nature presents too much of a risk.

The same applies to allowing children to work in professional theater, TV, and movies. Continue reading

Open Forum On Zoom Day!

Ugh. I have a Zoom seminar  on legal ethics to give today, which means dry runs, tech checks, and anxiety. I’ve concluded that I detest Zoom programs. You can’t read your audience, and for all I know they are doing crossword puzzles. Managing notes is awkward, graphics don’t look very good, and neither do I.

I  intend to be pantless as my silent protest against the whole fiasco.

Since I have no idea how and when posts will be emanating from 2707 Westminster Place, I’m opening up another Open Forum. As always, keep your commentary on topic (ethics and leadership), civil, witty, and substantive.

Now I’m going to review my notes…

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/7/2020: Writing The Morning Warm-Up While In A Foul Mood Is Like Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry..

In other words, a bad idea…but I don’t have much choice.

1. Let’s see if talking about two ethics movies helps. In honor of Wilfred Brimley’s death last week, I watched “Absence of Malice” from the beginning for the first time in decades. The film is shockingly relevant. It deftly exposes both the culture behind unethical journalism and the abuse of government investigations, and in both cases the arrogant “the ends justify the means” mentality that infects both professions at fault. I venture that it is impossible to see the movie now and not think about Mike Flynn, the Times and CNN, fake news, the Russian collusion investigation, Adam Schiff  and the weaponization of leaks.

The main difference between the movie and what we have watched in real life over the last nearly four years is scope: “Absence of Malice” is about a local investigation, and there is an implication that what we see isn’t typical, but a single instance of a system going wrong because of a couple of “bad apples.” Now we know, or should, that the film was a harbinger of things to come.

All of the ethics points are made the Assistant US Attorney General James Wells, played by Brimley, when he gathers the involved parties at a courthouse in the movie’s climax. The whole scene isn’t on YouTube, which is too bad, but two of Brimley’s speeches stand out:

To the ambitious and arrogant reporter played by Sally Field:

“You know and I know that we can’t tell you what to print, or what not to. We  hope the press will act responsibly. But when you don’t, there ain’t a lot we can do about it.”

And referring to his subordinate, an ambitious and arrogant prosecutor played by Bob Balaban:

“We can’t have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons. It ain’t legal. And worse than that, by God it ain’t right.”

The other ethics film I watched was “Hondo,” a John Wayne movie based on a Louie L’amour novel. Somehow I had missed it, even though I have seen almost all of Wayne’s “A” films, and quite a few of his “B” and “C” efforts as well. “Hondo” was a product of Wayne’s own production company. There are ethics themes in many Wayne movies, but perhaps this one qualifies more than the rest as an ethics film.

The movie has honesty and integrity as its main themes, and is especially interesting in the light of efforts by the cancel mob to paint Wayne as a racist. In “Hondo,” he plays a wandering gun-fighter who is part Indian, and whose respect for the tribes and sympathy for their plight in America is palpable. It’s an excellent and thought-provoking film; picking the Duke’s top ten is impossible, but “Hondo” is easily in his top 20.

2. The awful Senator Hirono. Hawaii Senator Maizie Hirono repeatedly refused to specifically condemn Antifa, retreating to “all violent extremists are bad” rhetoric. She ultimately walked out of Senator Ted Cruz’s hearing on “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence” after he asked her to clarify whether she included Antifa in her definition of violent extremists. She refused, and then walked out of the hearing, taking six other Senators with her, and for the life of me I can’t find out their names because our news media is hopeless.

3. More on Cruz: Senator Cruz’s statement on Black Lives Matter during his hearing warrants circulation, and I’d love to hear all the lazy and craven Black Lives Matter shills respond to his points. He said this after Hirono said that “Defund the police” wasn’t intended literally:

What else does BLM the organization support? On its website it is called for a “boycott of white capitalism.” In 2017, they called on people not to spend any money with white corporations. And not only that, the BLM website says that one of their objective is dismantling the “patriarchal practices and disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family.” That’s what they say their objectives are. Now the reason that matters is right now corporate America is desperate to demonstrate their virtue as we see great racial dissension.

So Black Lives Matter, BLM the group, raises money on ActBlue, the fundraising mechanism for virtually every elected Democrat in Congress. Among the donors to BLM the organization, according to public reports, include the company Ubisoft, which has given between $50,000 and $100,000. DoorDash, which has given reportedly $500,000. Amazon, which has given an unidentified portion of $10 million. Gatorade, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Nabisco, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Deckers, which has given an unidentified portion of $500,000. Microsoft, which has given $250,000. Dropbox, which has given $500,000 and Fitbit, which the amount given is not identified.

I would note Microsoft, the largest individual shareholder is Bill Gates. It’s more than ironic that Microsoft is funding an organization calling for boycotting all white corporations. Bill Gates is white. Microsoft is literally funding an organization calling for Microsoft to be defunded. Jeff Bezos, the largest owner of Amazon, who likewise is funding this radical Marxist group. Jeff Bezos is white too. And he’s funding an organization that is calling for the boycotting of Amazon.

This is dangerous and it’s worth understanding that when corporate America floods millions of dollars into explicitly Marxist terrorist organizations that glorify cop killers, that glorify violence, that the violence and terrorism that flows from that should not be surprising.

Bingo. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/2/2020: Imaginary Fans In New York, Elusive Justice In England, And Utter Cluelessness In Colorado

There’s nothing like a great hymn on a Sunday, and it’s always a good time to hear the rousing Battle Hymn of the Republic. When they sang it at Winston Churchill’s funeral—he chose it for that occasion–the moment was unforgettable. I made sure it was sung at my father’s funeral service at Arlington as well in 2010. Thanks to the largely theatrical mourners in the chapel,  side benefit of directing so many musicals and operettas, the rendition was spectacular. “Wow!” the surprised chaplain exclaimed.

It’s a good thing Dad wasn’t singing. He loved belting out that song, and he was completely tone deaf. His version of the Star Spangled Banner would bring anyone to their knees. It made Rosanne seem like Beverly Sills.

1. A gaffe with signature significance. The governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, was widely conceded to be a shoo-in to take the Senate seat away from Republican incumbent Cory Gardner. Then he said “All lives matter.” The Horror. Worse, he said that George Floyd was shot. He really did.

I can’t imagine a more conclusive sign that a politician is simply exploiting an event rather than bothering to learn what happened or think about it. The entire catalyzing effect of Floyd’s death was the symbolism of the cop’s knee on his throat. This guy even ran for President, and this is the seriousness and diligence with which he approaches political leadership. What were all those “I Can’t Breathe!” signs about, Governor?

Glenn Reynolds often says that we have the worst political class in U.S. history. I am reflexively opposed to “this is the worst it has ever been” pronouncements, but in this case, I am inclined to agree.

2. Yecchh! Continue reading

Tales Of The Niggardly Principals

Quite a bit of the censorship, word-banning and historical air-brushing we are seeing during the George Floyd Freakout, aka The Great Stupid, are fueled by ignorance, like that of the black D.C. employee in 1999 who forced  David Howard, an aide to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, to resign for using a “racial slur.”  (“Niggardly (noun: niggard) is an adjective meaning  stingy or miserly. It is derived from the Middle English word nigard, which is probably derived from Old Norse hnǫggr , meaning “stingy”) After Howard was reinstated, there was wide agreement that this was political correctness run amuck. Julian Bond, then chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said, You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding…Seems to me the mayor has been niggardly in his judgment on the issue” and noted that the US has a “hair-trigger sensibility” on race that can be tripped by both real and false grievances.”

Ah, those were the days! Imagine as statement like that coming from the NAACP today.

The core idea behind the three Niggardly Principles is that ignorance and stupidity should not be enabled, reward or encouraged, though it is unkind—unethical—to deliberately set out to offend someone even if the source of the offense is the individual’s knowledge or intellectual deficit. (That’s the Second Niggardly Principle.)

I do not think that one applies to this episode: Greg and Kjersten Offenecker, owners of The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns, Michigan removed  the Norwegian flag and an American flag posted outside their Civil War-era mansion last week because morons had accused them of promoting racism in the largely conservative Michigan town.

The couple said they capitulated after receiving “at least a dozen hateful emails” and other complaints.  “I don’t see it because I grew up with the Norwegian flag.To me they are two distinct flags,” shrugged Kjersten.

They ARE two distinct flags, you cowardly, submissive enabler of race bullies.!You should have issued each sender of those emails an explanation. You should have put out a press release clarifying the difference between the flags. You should have extended a little time and commitment  to protect speech and expression from sinister efforts to intimidate and censor by the proto-totalitarian Left, which is getting less proto- by the hour. Too much trouble to do your duty to fight for American values and principles, is it? Then I pronounce you a lazy and irresponsible citizen.

Here’s the Norwegian flag next to the Confederate flag:

They are not the same design. They do not have the same colors. Why are you allowing people this stupid to dictate your conduct? And if you remove the American flag because some vile mutation of citizen complains, you are as anti-American as it is. You are the kind of submissive coward who would raise a Nazi flag because your neighbors insisted on it.

The United States cannot survive if it is dominated by the ignorant and the meekly submissive.

Boy, Norway is so lovely this time of year. I don’t know how you can stay away… Continue reading

Tales Of The Great Stupid, Niggardly Principles Chapter

I am most grateful—I think—to  Ethics Bob Stone for bringing this story to my attention. It gives me hope, it really does, that we are quickly arriving at the point where the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck will be revealed to all as being driven and enabled by people so silly and stupid, that there will be an ear-splitting slapping sound across the land, as Americans of sense and perspective bring their palms to their foreheads in the humbling realization that they have been taking seriously the blathering of fools and ignoramuses.

And with a ripple of embarrassed laughter, the suddenly enlightened  will immediately begin going about life as they once did, devoid of self-flagellating guilt for believing in  a land and a system where people are, or should be, judged by their talents, enterprise, accomplishments and the content of their character, and not, whether black, Black, white or other hues and shades, the color of their skin, their ancestors, or what their ancestors did or didn’t do. Thereafter this period of unrestrained hate and statue-toppling, the cancel culture,  fear, groveling, virtue-signaling and grandstanding will come to be known as “The Great Stupid,” and we will collectively wonder, as with the Dutch Tulip Mania of the 17th Century and Disco, how the Hell something so mad could have happened, and for so long. Continue reading

Requiem For “My Mammy”

 

I was just running an errand, and on the Sirius XM 60’s Channel they were playing the top 40 songs from this date in 1967 (my favorite year). And what should come on but The Happenings, the Four Seasons-imitating group best known for “See You In September” and the whitest group in history, singing “My Mammy,” the Al Jolson trademark song that he originally sang in blackface.  (I apologize for using the non- “Jazz Singer” version of Jolson singing the song, but an article about blackface got Ethics Alarms banned from Facebook, and I don’t want to give them provocation to have me shot The video above also has another Jolson standard, “April Showers.” There’s nothing wrong with more Jolson; he was one of the great ones.)

I had forgotten that The Happenings had a mild hit with it as the follow-up to “I Got Rhythm.” “My Mammy,”music by Walter Donaldson and lyrics by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, is a terrific, tingles-up -the-spine song and performance piece (“I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles!”), but I assume it is now impossible to present because of its blackface connotations.

The loss of “My Mammy” isn’t  a great tragedy, but it’s still a tragedy. Big chunks of our culture are going to be torched before this insanity burns itself out, if it ever does. I have a feeling that I’ll be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.