Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/21/2020: Our Cheating Hearts

I can’t sleep.

While I’m thinking about Hank, I recommend Ken Burns’ latest documentary, “Country Music,” and I’m not exactly a country music buff (though my father’s favorite song was “The Wabash Cannonball” . Burns has always had a fondness for ethics stories, and his latest work is full of them.

How did I not know that Williams died before he turned 30? Based on his amazing output of classic songs, I assumed he must have lived to be 90. He’s the Buddy Holly of Country, or perhaps the Mozart.

1. Before we get to the real cheating, stop making me defend Mike Bloomberg! From Yahoo, in a post headlined, Bloomberg Shares Doctored Debate Video To Hide Dismal Performance” by David Moye, who needs a head transplant:

  “On Thursday morning, the billionaire businessman released a deceptively edited video that falsely suggested he rendered the other candidates speechless at one point….The video begins at the moment when the former New York City mayor declared: “I’m the only one here I think that’s ever started a business.” During the actual exchange, his comment was greeted with about four seconds of silence, but the video below falsely implied it was more like 20….whoever edited Bloomberg’s video tweet took moments from other parts of the debate to make it look as if his declaration was so powerful candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden had no response.”

Garbage! The critics are doing the exact same thing they did to President Trump’s video that kept showing video of Nancy Pelosi ripping up his State of the Union speech interspersed with the President’s admirable guests, like the 100-year-old Tuskeegee Airman. Anyone who couldn’t tell that the video was edited to make a point rather than to deceive is too dumb to vote. Similarly, anyone who believes that a Democratic candidates debate stage would ever stay silent for 20 seconds doesn’t know what a debate is, and has been watching cartoons all his life. A satirically edited video isn’t deceptive just because some viewers are dumber than boxes of kitty litter. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Round-Up, 2/19/2020: That Other Day That Will Live In Infamy…

Hi!

1. On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, empowering the Army to issue orders emptying parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona of immigrants from Japan, who were precluded from U.S. citizenship by law, and nisei, their children, who were U.S. citizens by birth. After the order, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court including future liberal icon William O. Douglas, the Japanese-Americans  were first warehoused at “assembly centers,” which could be racetrack barns or on fairgrounds, then shipped to ten detendtion camps in Western states and Arkansas. Armed guards and barbed wire, plus morning roll call were part of the degrading and punitive experience.

It is fair to say this treatment was substantially rooted in racism, for there was no mass incarceration of U.S. residents with ties to Germany or Italy. Once the U.S. appeared to be on the way to victory along with its Allies in December 1944, the Executive Order was  rescinded. By then the Army was enlisting Japanese American soldiers to fight in Africa and Europe. President Harry Truman told the all Japanese-America 442nd Regimental Combat Team: “You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice—and you have won.”

California is now preparing to formally apologize to the families of those interned.State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) introduced a resolution that will formally apologize for California’s “failure to support and defend the civil rights” of Japanese Americans during that period,” and it is expected to pass today.

It’s naked grandstanding and virtue signaling, of course. The federal government apologized for the unconstitutional imprisonment and granted financial redress to survivors with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, and the Supreme Court overruled its decision  upholding internment in 2018. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/15/20: Dresden, Bloomberg, Snopes, Climate Change, And “The Chalkening”

Good Morning…

1. Dresden bombing ethics. February 13-15, 1945 witnessed the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, with the resulting deaths of between 22,000 and 135,000 civilians. depending on whose propaganda you choose to believe. Regardless of the number, the destruction of the German cultural center and questionable military target so late in the war—after its loss in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s defeat was just a matter of time—was instantly controversial, and is still intensely debated today.

The attack, which dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city, destroyed more than 1,600 acres. By all accounts, the human toll was horrific. Lothar Metzger, a survivor, wrote,

We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.

Was the firebombing of Dresden a war crime?  If the Allies had lost the war, it would have become a war crime. As we have discussed here before, the concept of war crimes is confounding and hypocritical at best. If the attacks were deemed essential to ending the war as soon as possible, then they were ethically defensible.

Much of the debate over the years has focused on whether the bombing was terrorism. Of course it was, as were the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and General Sherman’s March to the Sea. Terror is a legitimate weapon in warfare, when the objective is to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. Attacks on civilians for revenge and to inflict gratuitous death and pain for no legitimate strategic purpose are unethical . The distinction is usually in the eye of the beholder.

Wikipedia has an unusually thorough article on the Dresden attack, and I found this paper interesting as well. Continue reading

Thank God It’s The Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/7/2020: What A Week! [ CORRECTED, After I Mixed Up Joe Walsh With Joe Wilson For The Hundredth Time]

Whew!

This has been more ethics drama than I could stand every week; I sure hope the rest of the year isn’t like this. First the Superbowl is won by an NFL team whose fans do the tomahawk chop. Then the Iowa Caususes self-destruct in an orgy of incompetence and finger-pointing as the Democrats blame white people and Trump. Nancy Pelosi makes Joe “You lie!” Wilson look civil, the Left has a conniption over  Rush Limbaugh being honored, the Senate acquits the President, and most notable of all, the Boston Red Sox named Alex Cora’s bench coach, Ron Roenicke, its new manager.

Since the Sox are under investigation for their own alleged cheating scandal, this was a fascinating choice. The team must have done its due diligence, questioning Cora, Roenicke and others to be 100% sure that Roenicke had no hand in whatever it was the Red Sox were doing to steal signs in 2018, if they were. If they didn’t, they are, to be blunt, morons with a death wish.

1. OK, I’m getting paranoid now, but what the heck is up with the new voice of Tony the Tiger? After decades of the startling bass of voice artist Thurl Ravenscroft growling “They’re GRRRRREAT!” (Ravenscoft is the one who sings “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”), Tony now sounds like an accountant. If they wanted to find a tiger-like voice, or even a Ravenscoft imitator, Kelloggs easily could have, just as Warner Bros. has been able to find passable (though inferior) replacements for Mel Blanc.  Am I being conspiratorial to think this is more woke cultural indoctrination by Madison Avenue, with the kinder, gentler, wimpier Tony avoiding toxic male aggressiveness? In the new Life cereal commercials, you know, “Mikey” is now a girl.

2. “Yet” arrives. In a post a couple of days ago, I wrote that the Democrats and news media hadn’t blamed the President for the Iowa Caucus implosion “yet.” Long time commenter Neil Doerr helpfully passed this along:

Supporters of President Donald Trump inundated a hotline used by Iowa caucus precinct leaders to report their tallies, contributing to significant delays in the final tally, Iowa Democratic Party officials said….NBC News reported on Thursday that the party’s hotline number was repeatedly posted on the online message board 4chan as voting took place on Monday night. Its users, who are anonymous and have trolled and harassed the president’s political opponents, urged others to call in. “Uh oh how unfortunate it would be for a bunch of mischief makers to start clogging the lines,” one user wrote, according to NBC.

4Chan is a pro-trolling progressives group. It is wants to promote chaos, not  Trump. The callers were anonymous; they cannot be called “Trump supporters” just because they wish the Democrats ill. (Nobody knows this mind set better than I.) Moreover, the phone lines appear to have been the least of the Iowa Democrats problems. The DNC has even called for a do-over, and it is beginning to look like there will never be definitive and reliable results. This is the fault of the Democratic Party. Nobody else.

Meanwhile, Nicole Fleetwood, a Rutgers American studies and Art History professor, tweeted on the Night They Tore The Caucus Down,  “Watching the Iowa Caucus is a sickening display of the over-representation of whiteness.”

That’s a irremediably racist statement. If the country is going to get proactive about eliminating ideological poisoning in our institutions of higher learning, insisting on the removal of unapologetic racists from faculties is a modest but necessary start. Continue reading

The Vital Concept Of Culture, Part I: Ignore It At Civilization’s Peril

Its is amazing to me how dismissive many supposedly astute people are regarding the importance of a single, strong and accepted culture to any group or organization, large or small. Even though toxic culture-based catastrophes occur at a  constant rate, the message never seems to get through sufficiently for metaphorical lightbulbs to switch on in millions of brains illuminating the thought, “Ah! Of course! Consistent, proven  values and common belief systems plus the societal enforcement of them are essential to our nation’s success, coherence and survival!”  It is amazing.

The unethical, ruthless, quid pro quo culture of Hollywood creates Harvey Weinstein, everybody makes inspiring speeches,, and  yet the core lesson that he was a predictable product of a industry sick culture never seems to sink it. It’s men’s fault. It’s a failure to believe accusers. No, it’s a failure to give proper priority to building and maintaining an ethical and healthy culture.

Baseball’s Houston Astros suddenly are found to have permitted widespread cheating by electronic sign-stealing, and their manager and general manager are fired for not detecting and stopping the problem.  However, the team had already indicated that it was working in a self-engineered “ends justify the means” culture when, in need of a relief pitcher, it signed one who was facing a trial for domestic violence even as the Astros had announced a “no tolerance” policy toward that very same activity.  The sign-stealing wasn’t the scandal; the gradual acceptance and nurturing of a corrupt culture was the scandal.

There are many other examples, but this an introduction, after all. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/2020: Transcripts! Audacious Defense Lawyers! Canadian Defamation! “Bombshells”! [UPDATED]

Good morning…

1. Here’s a typical unbiased New York Times front page headline regarding the impeachment trial (from last week):

“One One Side, Piles of Evidence, On the Other, Heaps of Scorn”

Here’s some more scorn: there is no evidence at all of impeachable offenses on  that pile, and scorn for the President is being treated as evidence.

2. This is astounding. (From johnburger, and thanks) Check out this.

Continue reading

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:
Continue reading