Ethics Dunce: Secretary Of Transportation (And Proud Dad!) Pete Buttigieg [Updated]

pete-buttigieg-chasten-

When I wrote in September about Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo abusing his paternal leave privileges to abandon his team at a crucial time in its battle to make 2021 the play-offs, I expected a lot of heated criticism (I didn’t, though I did get a provocative counter argument that became a Comment of the Day.) I wrote in part,

The Boston Red Sox recently completed a disastrous collapse that dropped them from first place in the American League East to third. As they went into battle with the two teams now ahead of them, their hottest hitter, Alex Verdugo, vanished on a four game paternity leave. Shortly thereafter, another hot hitter, Hunter Renfroe, was lost for five days on bereavement leave after his father died of cancer. T’was not always thus: in the days before the Players’ Union bargained to add such mid-season leave as a new benefit, if a player’s wife was in labor or a loved one died, it was at the team’s discretion whether he would be permitted to leave the team. OK, I can appreciate the need for the benefit, but both players abused the right. These guys both earn millions of dollars a year. They both routinely talk about the team’s quest to win the World Series, yet when their team really needed them, they absented themselves for many days because they could. That’s a betrayal of the team, team mates, and fans.

By the force of pure moral luck, Verdugo’s indulgence did no damage in the end: the Sox made the play-offs and have prospered (so far, though they lost last night), in great part because of Verdugo’s clutch hitting upon his return. That doesn’t change my ethics verdict on his dereliction of duty however (which the player reminds me of every time he gets a hit now, because Verdugo makes a baby-rocking gesture to his team mates in the dugout.) Compared to the Biden administration’s Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, however, Alex Verdugo is a model of dedication and responsibility.

Buttigieg and his husband Chasten adopted infant twins named Penelope and Joseph in August. The little bundles of joy arrived as product shortages and the supply chain problems had made themselves evident, a developing crisis that is worsening, and one that threatens the economy as well as businesses, jobs and the welfare of millions of Americans. It is also a situation squarely within the jurisdiction of the Transportation Department. Not since the airplane-executed terror attacks of September 11, 2001 has that agency had such a crucial task before it, nor have more Americans needed the performance of DOT to be diligent, timely, and effective.

Never mind! The Secretary of Transportation decided that this was still an appropriate time to take advantage of the Biden administration’s “family friendly” policies, and took two full months of paid leave while the supply chain problems multiplied and expanded. He wasn’t even online with his department during most of that time.

I apologize, Alex! Compared to Paternal Pete, you’re a self-sacrificing hero. I wish you were Secretary of Transportation.

Continue reading

The Facebook “Whistleblower” Thinks That The U.S. Needs More Censorship

I have to admit, Frances Haugen has played this beautifully. Like many so-called whistleblowers (not all), she picked an ideal moment to betray her previous employer, in this case Facebook, leak proprietary documents, turn herself into an instant media star, guarantee books deals, speaking tours and TV stardom, and be praised to the skies by gullible, grandstanding and cynical politicians.

“I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” the former Facebook product manager said before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. Perfect. I wonder if her media advisor helped her draft it.

Here is all you need to know about Haugan: According to her own website, Haugen was a member of Facebook’s internal  Civic Integrity team in 2020. That means she was part of the team that made the decision to ban the Hunter Biden laptop story by the New York Post from Facebook in October 2020. Facebook, and its evil twin Twitter, refused to allow circulation of the story, accepting without evidence the defensive Democratic talking point that the laptop was a plant was tied to Russian intelligence. Those claims were disinformation, we now know, and the laptop really did belong to Hunter Biden. Facebook’s partisan embargo on the truth might have determined the election. Is blocking a story that might defeat Joe Biden what the whistleblower considers avoiding division and protecting democracy?

It’s a rebuttable presumption. I don’t trust Haugan, her motives, or her message.

Continue reading

This Weekend In Pro-Abortion Ethics

SCOTUS protest

Let’s examine this by categories….

Warped Concepts of How the System Works: Yet another Women’s March, like all of them, misleadingly labeled to avoid the ugly transparency that “March to be Able to Kill the Unborn at Will” would broadcast, ended up at the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. Thousands traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand abortion rights, as if the Supreme Court decides complex issues according to who shouts the loudest, is most passionate, or has the coolest signs. Demonstrators surrounded the court,shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.

Morons. These assaults on the Curt have driven me mad for decades, as what they demonstrate is that difficult matters of law, precedent and policy can be decided by slogans and the incoherent bellows from a mob. It’s an insult to the Court, the Constitution, and the system. If you have a valid argument, file an amicus brief. These demonstrations, and it doesn’t matter what their goal is our which side of the ideological spectrum they come from, waste time, energy, passion and taxpayer funds. Is the idea intimidation? Good luck with that. Persuasion? Sure, a bunch of screaming and weeping activists are going to persuade anyone but TV talking heads. Narcissistic grandstanding?

There you go.

Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Perfect Murder Assignment

lamb murder

“Ick” or ethics? This recurring question seems to be at the core of a controversy at Central Valley High School in Spokane, Washington. Ninth graders in a language arts class were instructed to compile the components of the “perfect murder.”

The assignment read, in part:

“Turn the following into real sentences and put them in a paragraph briefly explaining, ‘the perfect murder.’ Items should appear in your paragraph according to the order of importance. There are 10 ideas here, so if you remove one you have to add an idea of your own.

  1. It should be easy to arrange.
  2. It should leave no clues.
  3. There should be no noise.
  4. It should look like suicide.
  5. It should take place in a lonely, isolated place.
  6. It should not be cheap.
  7. No violence should be necessary.
  8. It should look like an accident.
  9. It should be quick.
  10. The murderer should have a good alibi.”

Continue reading

Having To Argue The Obvious On Gender Identity: “Trans”

lienear constant

it’s not as catchy as “Bias makes you stupid, ” but “Ideology makes you unethical” is just as true. However, just as bias is unavoidable, ideologies of some kind are necessary. The trick is to find one that doesn’t do more harm than good.

The diagram above was explained to me by a friend, fan and boss, the late Richard Halpern. He was a devotee of Chaos Theory, which he called his “religion.’ Life is chaos, he said, and human systems were chaotic. He likened living to a passenger plane’s journey through the endlessly unpredictable air currents and weather phenomenon in the skies. He analogized the plane’s guidance system to a linear constant through chaos, without which, Rich said, the plane would be lost. “No plane follows the charted path the whole trip, because it is constantly knocked off course, but that constant is there for the plane to return to. Ideologies are the same: you have to have that ever-present constant or be lost, with no basis for deciding where to turn, and when you’re navigating through chaos, it really doesn’t matter what it is.

This is why religion is so useful, and all mandated value systems, what Ethics Alarms defines as “morality.” Laws are mandated moral codes, You don’t have to make a million separate decisions, just one: Follow that constant! The constant can be repugnant to others or based on myth and bias, but once someone commits to it, it will do the job. This is where cults come from. This is how Amway became successful. This is why people elevate political and social goals to the point that all of their decisions about who to associate with, what to watch and read and how to align priorities are based on them. Abortion. The environment. “Social justice.”

A new book by Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is executive editor for events business of “The Economist,” takes on one of the weirder ideologies that has arisen in recent years, what she calls “gender-identity ideology.” It would be nice if she were a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but then those and most other professional groups in the United States have been so cowed into knee-jerk alliance with the progressive movement that any member of them daring to challenge the cant would face “cancellation.” Her book is titled “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.” To be fair, that title could be fairly and accurately adapted to any ideology; remember that neo-conservative icon Irving Kristol (yes, Bill’s dad) famously said that a conservative was “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” (A cynic is a neo-conservative who was mugged by Iraq.)

Continue reading

Your Child’s Teacher Might Be An Idiot If…

Poster

…this poster is hanging in the classroom. Is there any “might” about it? Well, it’s possible that the teacher knows most of the bumper-sticker platitudes on the poster are naive, misleading, simplistic to the point of uselessness and actively suffocate critical thinking, but they are part of a loose conspiracy determined to breed Marxism, or maybe just stupidity, which is to Marxist indoctrination what agar is to bacteria, in our rising generations.

That fatuous list of virtue-signaling blather is being sold on T-shirts, stickers, posters, mugs, kids’ T-shirts and masks, and could stand as Exhibit A to prove the proposition that any parent who doesn’t drop in on their child’s classroom to see what kinds of propaganda is being force-fed there is lazy, irresponsible, and partially responsible for the rapidly spreading cultural, intellectual and ethical rot spreading over the land.

The nine progressive spit-bubbles above also turn up on lawn signs in my neighborhood. That’s fine: if adults want to signal they are squishy-brained moron, that’s a public service, and if they choose to train their children to think the Care Bears are profound, well, those kids’ DNA is probably pretty wan anyway. But teachers openly promoting such stuff as “truth” or worse, wisdom, is a hair from child abuse, and maybe not even a hair. I am going to begin advocating that all teacher interviews include the questions,

  • “Do you but, wear anything with these statements on them? Why?”
  • “Would you display such messages in your classroom?”
  • “Taking each of the statements individually, please explain how they are overly simplistic or inappropriately political in nature, or why you think they are not.”
  • “If you had such messages posted in your classroom, would you object to a parent of one of your students see it?”
  • “If a parent objected to the display, how would you respond?’

Let’s examine those nine assertions. One, “Kindness inspires,” is unobjectionable. As for the rest,

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Black Baltimore HS Student Near The Top Half Of His Class Despite A 0.13 Grade Point Average

Augusta Fells

The story, from the ABC local affiliate, is here. A quick summary:

Baltimore City mother Tiffany France’s reached out to local TV stations to complain when she learned that her 17-year-old son, who attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore, will not only not graduate this year, but will be returned to the 9th grade. His transcripts show him passing just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits. France says she didn’t find that out until February, and thought her oldest son was doing well because was being promoted. He failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III. In his first three years at Augusta Fells, the boy failed 22 classes and was late or absent 272 days. France says, however, that despite what school policy requires when a student is absent, she was never contacted. Maybe that’s because, on a curve, he was doing fine. France’s son’s transcripts show his class rank is 62 out of 120, meaning about half his classmates, have a 0.13 grade point average or lower.

The ABC story concludes,

“Project Baltimore asked the City Schools administrator what they would say to France. The administrator replied, ‘I didn’t have a hand on this student, but I worked for City Schools. So, he is one of my kids. I would hug her, and I would apologize profusely.’ ‘He feels embarrassed, he feels like a failure,” France said of her son. “I’m like, you can’t feel like that. And you have to be strong and you got to keep fighting. Life is about fighting. Things happen, but you got to keep fighting. And he’s willing, he’s trying, but who would he turn to when the people that’s supposed to help him is not? Who do he turn to?

Observations:

Continue reading

Introduction To “Thoughts On What An Ethical Solution To The Abortion Ethics Conflict Might Look Like, Part 2: A Solution” [Updated]

Uncle_Toms_Cabin_by_Harriet_Beecher_Stowe

I’ll post the 25 stipulations from Part I at the bottom of Part II for easy reference; I’ll be quoting the number in some cases. But not right now…I realized that an introduction is necessary.

It’s important to clarify an essential point up front: as long as the two sides in the abortion controversy refuse to acknowledge the validity of the other side’s interest and concern, no solution to the problem is possible, and until that point, it is almost a waste of time discussing it. In this respect, it is like another ongoing ethics conflict, the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. (That one I believe is hopeless, and the only solution is an unethical one: a war that leaves one side or the other standing. That may happen; I don’t see it as a likely resolution of the abortion question.

Related to this condition precedent to any resolution is the fact that the pro- and anti- abortion sides (Let’s send “pro-life and “pro-choice” to ethics hell where they belong) must stop demonizing the other. That practice makes compromise and literally impossible, and a problem like abortion cannot be addressed ethically without the recognition that balancing of interests must occur at some level.

In this area, abortion separates itself from the ethics and human rights dispute it most resembles. The analogy is useful in some respects (as we shall see), but not in the area of compromise. The period preceding the Civil War was a fiasco of attempted compromise regarding slavery, and every attempt made the situation worse, more unethical, more unjust, and more contentious. Slavery really is an absolutist problem: it is absolutely wrong, and there are not ethical principles on both sides, unlike abortion. The pro-slavery case was economic, making slavery an ethics dilemma (non-ethical considerations vs ethical ones), unlike abortion. Because abortion is an ethics conflict, each side must accept a solution that is partially unethical, or there will never be a solution.

Continue reading

Post-Labor Day Ethics Laments, 9/7/21

weeping

You could yesterday, September 6, “Moral Luck Day.” On that date in 1901, President William McKinley was shaking hands at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him with a pistol in his hand wrapped in a handkerchief, and fired two bullets into the President’s chest. Touchingly, McKinley’s immediate thoughts were of his wife, Ida, who was in poor physical and emotional health. “Be careful how you tell her!” he whispered to an aide. Eight days later, McKinley was dead. But what Czolgosz intended as a strike to the heart of America’s government had the opposite effect, making Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican considered too independent, radical and uncontrollable (unlike McKinley) by his own party to be in the White House, exactly what GOP leaders never wanted him to be. Teddy made the United States a world power, greatly expanded the power of his office and the government itself, and was, in short, an anarchist’s nightmare.

1. Baseball ethics: The Boston Red Sox recently completed a disastrous collapse that dropped them from first place in the American League East to third. As they went into battle with the two teams now ahead of them, their hottest hitter, Alex Verdugo, vanished on a four game paternity leave. Shortly thereafter, another hot hitter, Hunter Renfroe, was lost for five days on bereavement leave after his father died of cancer. T’was not always thus: in the days before the Players’ Union bargained to add such mid-season leave as a new benefit, if a player’s wife was in labor or a loved on died, it was at the team’s discretion whether he would be permitted to leave the team. OK, I can appreciate the need for the benefit, but both players abused the right. These guys both earn millions of dollars a year. They both routinely talk about the team’s quest to win the World Series, yet when their team really needed them, they absented themselves for many days because they could. That’s a betrayal of the team, team mates, and fans. I’ve been there. My grandmother, a major influence in my life, died while I was in tech week for a major production I was directing. I flew to Boston for the wake, and flew back early the next morning. I couldn’t do anything for my grandmother. My family didn’t need me as much as the show did.And I wasn’t being paid a cent for directing that show, never mind millions of dollars.

2. Curtis Flowers is suing. Good! Curtis Flowers, whom I wrote about here, filed a lawsuit last week against Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans, who prosecuted him six times for the killings of four people at a small-town Mississippi furniture store. He was finally released in December 2019, about six months after the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the conviction and death sentence from his sixth trial, which took place in 2010. Justices said prosecutors showed an unconstitutional pattern of excluding African American jurors in the Flowers’ six trials, which kept him in prison for 26 years despite never being found guilty in a fair trial. This wasn’t a prosecution, it was a vendetta. I would like to see a bar prosecution of Evans, who abused the ethical duties of a prosecutor.

Continue reading

POTUS Empathy Games”Hey, I’ve Got Problems Of My Own!”

Biden weeps

How long will Americans excuse Biden’s dead son sympathy ploy?

As noted by the New York Times, Biden once again evoked his deceased son Beau while addressing the families of Marines killed in the Kabul airport bombing He has been doing this for years. Even if it’s sincere, and it might me, it is a manipulative and unethical ploy. Al Gore was addicted to a similar routine, talking about his dead sister. Althouse nails the problem, writing,

Biden needs to show people that he’s focused on the problems that beset us now and that he can do something to help us. To stand there offering up himself as an example of a person who has suffered doesn’t send a message of focus and competence. It’s a message that can be read as Hey, I’ve got problems of my own. Faced with parents of marines who’d just been killed, he said, essentially, my son died too….You might be tolerant of an old man who came up to you at your child’s funeral and wanted you to know how much he still hurts from the death of his child 6 years ago. It might be difficult, but you’d probably think something like, that poor old guy. But this poor old guy is President of the United States. He asked to be President of the United States, and by some strange twists of fate, he got what he said he wanted. And now everyone’s problems are his. He needs to act like someone who can handle all that. If he’s swallowed up in grief over his lost son — if he’s “haunted,” as the NYT headline has it — perhaps he should resign. …But it’s no wonder he’s lapsed into the misconception that “Beau” is a magic word. The press has propped him up so much — including with this “Invoking Beau” article.

Continue reading