Category Archives: Ethics Train Wrecks

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/18: Overthrowing The Government, Replacing Umpires, and Fooling Some Of The People Who Never Did Their Science And Math Assignments [UPDATED!]

Good morning…

1. Baseball Ethics: Again, Robocalls, please! Last night, Game #2 of the American League Championship Series between the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and some team from Boston again showed why Major League Baseball must install automated ball and strike calls and automatic video review if the game is going to have any integrity at all. Regarding the latter, there was a play in which a Houston batter’s swing and miss for strike three was erroneously called a foul ball by the home plate umpire, and the replay claerly showed that the bat had missed any contact by inches. Nonetheless, the batter got another chance. He struck out (“no harm, no foul” literally) a second time, but that was just moral luck. If he had hit a home run, altering the game’s outcome, the system would have been changed with lightning speed: Ye Olde Barn Door Fallacy.

Regarding the constant missed call and strike calls that risk changing the outcome in every game, the previous game in the serious contained a classic example. In a close contest with the two runners on base and a 3-2 count, Red Sox batter Andrew Benintendi was called out on a pitch about six inches outside the strike zone. Instead of the inning continuing with the bases loaded and the AL season RBI leader, J.D. Martinez, coming to the plate, the inning was over. Listening to the ex-players like TBS color man Ron Darling babble excuses and rationalizations is almost as infuriating as the obviously wrong calls. “Well, the ball wasn’t too far off the plate” and “That pitch has been called a strike earlier tonight” and “The umpires have a difficult job”: Shut up, Ron. The strike zone is set by the rules; a ball is either a strike or it isn’t, so a call is either correct or it’s botched. Blatantly missed calls were “part of the game” in an earlier era when nothing could be done about them, but that’s not true now. Baseball is supposed to be determined by the skill and performance of the players, not by random, unpredictable mistakes by the bystanding officials. Can you imagine a criminal defendant sent to prison in a trial where the judge repeatedly allowed inadmissible evidence against him because he misinterpreted the law, and the appeals court shrugging and rejecting an appeal with a unanimous opinion that said, “Hey, mistakes happen! It’s part of the system’s tradition and charm!”

2. Run, Fauxahontas, Run!  Fake Native American Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) announced that she finally did have her DNA tested. No cheapie home test for this aspiring Cherokee: she had the DNA test performed  by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor (and Democrat) and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis.  He concluded that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that “the results strongly support the existence of an “unadmixed Native American ancestor,” and calculated that Warren’s pure Native American ancestor appears in her family tree “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” That’s a big range: six generations would make her 1/32nd American Indian, but ten generations would make her 1/1024th Native American. Nothing in the test proves she has the Cherokee ancestry she claims.

UPDATE: Apparently the Globe reporters and editors are among the math-challenged. Mid-day, it issued a second correction:

“Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 6th to 10th generation relative. The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she’s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American,” the Globe explained.

This means Warren is somewhere between 0.09 and 1.5 percent Native American, not between .19 and 3.1 percent as originally claimed.

Continue reading

100 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, Sports

From The “Bias Makes You Stupid Files”: Who Could Have Predicted That Black Men Would Identify With Brett Kavanaugh?

Kanye West may be crazy, but he isn’t wrong.

Writes the former race-baiting ESPN reporter Jamele Hill in The Atlantic:

On Tuesday night, I was in an auditorium with 100 black men in the city of Baltimore, when the subject pivoted to Brett Kavanaugh. I expected to hear frustration that the sexual-assault allegations against him had failed to derail his Supreme Court appointment. Instead, I encountered sympathy. One man stood up and asked, passionately, “What happened to due process?” He was met with a smattering of applause, and an array of head nods.

Why did Hill expect a group that  has historically been the victim of “believe the white woman” more than anyone to regret the failure of the desperation hit on the SCOTUS nominee using the banneer of #meToo waving over an unsupported accuser? Why did the Democrats? It’s pure bias: they assume that any group in their base automatically approves of their “ends justifies the means” tactics, no matter what basic principles of justice or democracy  have to be sacrificed. I heard about Hill’s bias-driven myopia before I read the whole article, and immediately wondered what Brian Banks, the promising high school football player whose life was upended when a jury believed his false accuser, Wanetta Gibson, would think of the argument that Kavanaugh’s appointment should be forfeit because a single accuser “must be believed.” As it turns out, Hill thought about Banks too, and even approached him.

I reached out to Banks and asked whether he had any thoughts about this solidarity some black men seem to feel with Kavanaugh, but he politely declined to comment. I can’t say that I blame him, since there’s probably nothing Banks could say that wouldn’t be interpreted as being unsympathetic toward victims.

Interpreted by who? I’m sympathetic toward victims, but like Banks, I suspect, I’m not sympathetic with those who want to ruin the lives of men, be they a an African American high school athlete or a judge with an impeccable personal and professional record as an adult, by discarding the principles of due process, equal justice, and presumption of innocence. Nobody can say that Blasey-Ford is a victim any more than the women who got Emmet Till killed was a victim. Democrats wanted her to be a victim, and that was the sole basis for her to be believed more than the man she accused. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/13/18: The Mob, Bizarro World, Mid-Air Pedicures, And Robert E. Lee [UPDATED!]

1. Things fearmongers say...A Facebook friend, smart, a lawyer, good guy, wrote this: “The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh will go down as one of the darkest days of the American experiment.” He really wrote that, and an astounding number of the Facebook leftist echo chamber “liked” the statement. Apparently Kavanaugh is going to resuscitate the Dred Scott decision, Korematsu v. United States, child labor and end women’s suffrage. He’s going to engineer from the Supreme Court chambers the equivalent of the American Civil War, or Pearl Harbor. Right. If Kavanaugh turned out to be a stealth combination of Jack the Ripper, the Marquis de Sade and Dr. Fu Manchu his confirmation couldn’t possibly rank in the top hundred “darkest days.”

That kind of rhetoric is hysterical and irresponsible, an abuse of free speech designed to make gullible and intellectually lazy people irrational and ignorant.

2. “Stop  making me defend Donald Trump…AND Robert E. Lee!”  Last night, as President Trump was speaking in front of a rally, NBC News tweeted out,

WATCH: President Trump says “Robert E. Lee was a great general” during Ohio rally, calling the Confederate leader “incredible.”

A few points to note on this: How is that observation and opinion news by any definition of the word? Lee was regarded as a “great general” well before the Civil War: that’s why Lincoln offered him the  command of the Union army when the war started. There are many, many books written by military experts that express and justify that assessment. Ghengis Khan was also a really great general, along with Julius Caesar and Curtis LeMay. This is a rare variety of fake news, joining more common varieties that have become routine of late like potential news, future news and psychic news,called past news, a new oxymoron. As for “incredible,” this, everyone conscious should know by know, is generic Trump-speak like “great,” “tremendous,” and “sad.” Who knows what it means here? It doesn’t mean Lee was an incredible human being, or at least there’s nothing in the context of NBC’s tweet that suggests that. He had an incredibly good beard for that period, at least compared to say, Longstreet, who looked like a member of ZZ Top. He was incredibly conflicted over which side to fight for. He had incredible guts.

Incredibly, though not really, because the mainstream news media has established that there are no depths to which it will not stoop in its unethical bias and incompetence, NBC tweeted that to bolster the long-running false narrative that President Trump is a racist, which he must be to extol Robert E. Lee,  the object of a particularly vile historical airbrushing and statue-toppling movement, a part of the Left’s Orwellian indoctrination and mind control effort as it slowly but surely embraces totalitarianism.

But if one actually knows the context of Trumps’ remarks, he was not praising Lee, though there is no reason why he shouldn’t, but making the point that despite Lee’s credentials and reputation, it was unheralded Ulysses Grant, denigrated as a joke when the war started, who defeated Lee. Trump was, as he usually does, talking about himself, and NBC’s tweet was intentionally misleading, and just more pandering to Trump-haters, attempting to further divide the country.

3. Floss! Floss! One of the very first posts on Ethics Alarms was about the ethics of people flossing their teeth in public. Having read this story, about a woman who began giving herself a pedicure during an airplane flight, I hereby officially proclaim that the conclusion in that post applies:

Manners and public etiquette are always evolving, and society determines what it will and will not endure. The passive, “mind your own business” theory always espoused by the least respectful, rudest and least considerate among us is a prescription for an endless deterioration in the quality of public life, and a greased slide into culturally-endorsed bad conduct. Every citizen has an obligation to his and her community to confront conduct that he or she feels does not belong in public, confront the offender, and support others who do so. Doing otherwise is not “minding one’s business,” but endorsing and entrenching bad conduct, abdicating the public duty of cultural preservation.

On a related note, there’s this.  Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Hero: Michelle Obama

Like it or not, Michelle Obama has established herself as a cultural role model, and millions of American respect her statements and opinions and take them to heart. As clearly contrary to reality as  her now-famous “When the go low, we go high” remark was—its is difficult to remember the last time the Democratic leadership “went high”—the statement would have been an ethical one if it were true, and was still arguably aspirational, unless regards it as cynical public deception.

(Which, I confess, I have…)

This week, as important voices in her party increasingly courted hate, anger and violence among members of the public in the wake of Operation Smear Kavanaugh failing so spectacularly, the former First Lady refused to encourage the mob, and told the Today Show,

“Fear is not … a proper motivator. Hope wins out, and if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?…Which motto do you want them to live by? And I have to think about that as a mother.”

Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, Quotes, U.S. Society

Oh, NOW I Get It! People Are Furious At The Kavanaugh Confirmation Because They Believe Divisive Fear-Mongers And Partisan Liars Like David Leonhardt! [Part II]

New York Times hyper-partisan pundit David Leonhardt’s hate speech  in the New York Times was so bad, I couldn’t cover its ugliness in a reasonable length post. Here I pick up from Part I.

5. “publicly sought“; Lower and lower: Trump needled Hillary about her missing e-mails, and facetiously suggested that Russia should hack them so we could find out what was in them. This has been a disgraceful trope in the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories, and citing it identifies the writer or speaker as an  untrustworthy hack.

6. “When national security officials raised alarm with Congress, before Election Day, leaders of the candidate’s party refused to act.”

It is nice that the columnist supplies the news links so we can read what he is falsely characterizing.  This is a good example: a typically slanted post by anti-Trump Fury Jennifer Rubin blaming Mitch McConnell for not agreeing to sign “a bipartisan statement of condemnation.” If there is anyone who thinks that the Obama administration was prevented in any way from taking measures to protect the election from the Russians because McConnell wouldn’t sign a statement, raise your hand. It’s like the old telephone game: Rubin makes a highly dubious claim, and Leonhardt cites it to mean something more dubious still.

7. “The foreign assistance appears to have been crucial to the candidate’s narrow victory.” Appears to whom? There is absolutely no evidence that Russians played a crucial or even significant role in Trump’s  upset. This is now Democrat cant, and wonderful example of bootstrapping: obviously Hillary’s loss proves the case, because they are sure that she shouldn’t have lost.

8. “He won with only 46.1 percent of the popular vote, less than 16 losing candidates over the years had, including Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Williams Jennings Bryan and the little-remembered Horatio Seymour.”  Yes, the Left is still complaining about the Constitutional rules of the system that all parties have played by from the beginning, and which has worked out extraordinarily well. What is Leonhardt trying to say? Apparently that Trump isn’t legitimate, so everyone should be angry that they are being governed by an evil pretender.

Psst! Idiot!! 46.1 % is also more than some prominent Presidential winners, like Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Bill Clinton (twice), as well as some not so prominent, like John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan In other words, the statistic is cherry-picked trivia, and proves nothing whatsoever.

9. Sigh. The Supreme Court seat was not “stolen,” which falsely implies something illegal.  The GOP was within its legal rights not to allow Obama’s nomination come to the Senate floor. The plan was unethical, unfair and a ridiculous gamble that easily could have backfired, but “stolen” is a falsehood.

10. ” A brutal, partisan process that was made into the norm by Democrats during the Bork and Thomas hearings, and sent plummeting to new lows by the outrageous conduct of, again, Democrats, this time.” There, I fixed it for you, Leonhardt. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Oh, NOW I Get It! People Are Furious At The Kavanaugh Confirmation Because They Believe Divisive Fear-Mongers And Partisan Liars Like David Leonhardt! [Part I]

I know: I could spend all my time debunking unethical columns like Times pundit David Leonhardt’s piece a few days ago. However, since I noted in the previous post that I was puzzled by the fury of so many people regarding what was, in any objective assessment, a fair and competent—and, thank god, successful—effort by Republicans to prevent Democrats from shredding basic principles of justice and fairness in their desperate effort to preserve a favorable ideological balance on the Supreme Court as if they were entitled to it (They weren’t, because elections have consequences), I am obligated to inform the assembled that my puzzlement was cleared by his screed.

There are pundits like Leonhardt who are actively trying to foment fury and division, they are using false narratives, deceit and lies to do it, and newspapers like the Times and news networks like CNN and MSNBC are actively promoting the effort. I won’t waste my time and yours on the whole column, fun as it would be, but just this section:

If you’re not angry yet, you should be.

Let’s review: Decades ago, a businessman built a fortune thanks in large measure to financial fraud. His corrupt gains helped him become famous. He then launched a political career by repeatedly telling a racist lie, about the first black president secretly being an African.

This lie created an audience in right-wing media that made possible a presidential campaign. During that campaign, the candidate eagerly accepted — indeed, publicly sought — the illegal assistance of a foreign enemy. When national security officials raised alarm with Congress, before Election Day, leaders of the candidate’s party refused to act.

The foreign assistance appears to have been crucial to the candidate’s narrow victory. He won with only 46.1 percent of the popular vote, less than 16 losing candidates over the years had, including Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Williams Jennings Bryan and the little-remembered Horatio Seymour.

Having won, the new president filled a Supreme Court seat that his party had stolen with an unprecedented power grab. This weekend, the president finished filling a second seat, through a brutal, partisan process. During it, the president, himself an admitted sexual molester, mocked victims of abuse.

Together, the two new justices have cemented an extremist Republican majority on the Supreme Court. It has already begun acting as a kind of super-legislature, throwing out laws on voting rights, worker rights, consumer rights and political influence buying. Now, the court is poised to do much more to benefit the wealthy and powerful at the expense of most Americans — and the planet.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

That’s right: democracy doesn’t work when journalists are complicit in fomenting public division and violence to advance a political agenda. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, October 10, 2018: Incompetence Special

Good morning, and I mean it this time…!

1. My only Red Sox-related note: One reason I know that the news media can’t be trusted is that when I have first hand knowledge of a topic or event reported in the paper, I often find the reporting lazily, inexplicably, factually wrong. Here’s a trivial but illustrative example: this amazing play (It’s at 1:04 on the video) ended last night’s decisive Boston 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series:

Here’s how the Times described it:

“Kimbrel then got Gleyber Torres to hit a dribbler to third. Eduardo Nunez, a former Yankee, gathered it and threw slightly wide of first base, but another former Yankee, Steve Pearce, stretched to glove it an instant before Torres touched the bag.”

What? “Slightly wide”? A millimeter wider and the ball would have been in the dugout! If journalists can’t get little things right, why should be trust them to convey the important stuff?

2. Institutional incompetence  The historical airbrushing continues. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Washington and Lee University has decided to make changes to the names of some campus buildings after concerns from students and faculty.

On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees announced that it will rename Robinson Hall as Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from Washington Academy, the predecessor of W&L, in 1799. Also, Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson Hall in honor of Pamela Hemenway Simpson, who served as an associate dean of the college and helped move to a co-ed environment in the 1980s.

The board also announced that effective immediately, it will replace portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms inside Lee Chapel with portraits of the two men in civilian clothing.

An educational institution that thinks it is appropriate to airbrush its own history can’t be trusted to teach anyone. Robinson Hall is named after the man who established the college, John Robinson. Yup, he was a slaveholder, but he established the school, and deserves prominent recognition for that. The decision to strip Washington and Lee of their uniforms is particularly ominous, hinting of several obnoxious biases. Soldiers are taboo now? Or is this a strike against “toxic masculinity”?  If the idea is to pretend that Robert E. Lee  is only notable for his post-military career as president of the university, that’s absurd and dishonest: if Lee had never worn the Confederate uniform, he would never have led the school, and nobody would know who he was today. Washington’s military brilliance  supersedes  his civilian achievements in significance and historical impact, for without General Washington there would be no United States of America.

My position is that it is negligent for parents to entrust their children’s minds to stupid people and incompetent schools. Washington and Lee and its administrators now qualify for that category.

Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Sports, Workplace