Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 4/17/2019: Accountability, Conflicts of Interest, Incivility, Hype And Privilege

It’s a real ethics poop-poop platter…

1. Red Sox lousy start ethics. Boston Red Sox starting ace Chris Sale, widely regarded as one of the top two or three pitchers in baseball who signed a rich multi-year extension with the team right before the season began, lost his fourth straight start yesterday to begin the season. He told reporters, “This is flat-out embarrassing. For my family, for our team, for our fans. This is about as bad as it gets. Like I said, I have to pitch better…It sucks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I just flat-out stink right now.”

2. The Hollywood writers vs agents mess. I haven’t posted on this because I can’t find a copy of the controversial “Code of Conduct” that the agents refuse to sign. I also need to bone up on  the agency laws in New York and California. This article is a good summary of the show-down. Regarding the question of conflicts of interest in the practice of “packaging” and agents going into the production business, , however, it seems clear that the writers have the better arguments. From the article:

Packaging is a decades-old practice under which agencies may team writers with other clients from their stables for a given project. With packaging fees, an agent forgoes the usual 10 percent commission fee paid to them by individual clients; in its place, they are paid directly by the studio….The writers argue that agencies violate their fiduciary obligations to their clients when they make money from studios instead of from the people they are representing. The practice of accepting packaging fees, the writers say, allows the agencies to enrich themselves at the writers’ expense when they should be using their leverage to get more money for writer-clients.

Any time an agent gets paid by the party the agent is supposed to be negotiating with, that’s a textbook conflict. I’m amazed the agents have been getting away with this practice for so long. As for the production deals…

There are agency-affiliated companies that have moved into the production business — and this does not sit well with the writers unions. W.M.E., for instance, has an affiliate company called Endeavor Content. It was formed in 2017 and is a distributor of the show “Killing Eve,” as well as a producer of an epic drama coming from Apple TV Plus called “See.” C.A.A. also has an affiliate: Wiip. It is a producer of “Dickinson,” a comedy series that is also part of the Apple rollout scheduled for the fall. United Talent Agency is also getting in on production, with an affiliate called Civic Center Media. It has teamed up with M.R.C., the producer of “House of Cards,” to make new shows.

The agencies have argued that these affiliates are artist-friendly studios that will help writers, because they add to the number of potential buyers — which means more competition for writers’ services and bigger paychecks. The writers have said that agencies have a conflict of interest when they act as studios. How, they ask, can an agent represent you and also be your boss?

Bingo. The short and easy answer is “They can’t.”

Stay tuned… Continue reading

Now THAT’S An Unethical Judge!

But perhaps a potential Democratic Presidential candidate…or Virginia Lieutenant Governor maybe?

Judge Scott Gallina of Asotin County in Washington was arrested at the courthouse last week and charged with second-degree rape. He was also charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and indecent liberties, as described by  a press release by Washington’s attorney general.

Eleven women claim that Gallina subjected them to varying degrees of sexual misconduct including unwanted touching and inappropriate comments. The  women even adopted a buddy system so that no one would risk being alone with the judge in his chambers.

The rape charge involves a woman who  told investigators that she didn’t report Gallina’s alleged conduct  because she  feared she wouldn’t be believed. She did complain to Judge Gallina, who said he “could not help it because he liked beautiful women.”

And it gets creepier. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 4/8/19: Is Ethics Really As Hard As These People Make It Seem?

Good morning!

(That’s Jimmy’s old vaudeville partner Eddie Jackson singing with Jimmy. Eddie was a one-trick pony and never destined for stardom, though he did appear in the Zigfield Follies. After Jimmy became a big star, he still kept Eddie on his payroll, well into Eddie’s old age. Introduced by Durante as his “partner,” Jackson would come strutting out midway through the live or TV show, singing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” in his unremarkable voice. Sometimes Jimmy joined in, sometimes Eddie just strutted off stage to end the number. This courtesy went on for decades, until Eddie was too feeble to perform.)

1. Baseball ethics: showboating. This happened yesterday…

Why? Well, Chris Archer, the Pirates pitcher, was peeved because the Cincinnati Reds’ Derek Dietrich hit a home run, dropped the bat, and stood stock still and stared at it as it left the field. This is known as showboating and showing up the pitcher; it’s a fuck you move. Archer retaliated in Dietrich’s next at bat by throwing a fastball behind Dietrich near his head, widely considered to be taboo as unacceptably dangerous. The fight ensued.

The episode raised questions about MLB’s controversial PR campaign with the slogan “Let the Kids Play!”, endorsing the flamboyant on-field celebrating and styling brought to the game by Latin players,  Archer is one of the prime “playing” players, famous (or infamous) for dancing off the mound after a strikeout, kissing his arms, and other displays of self-admiration. Since that is his act, many, including me, feel that it is the height of hypocrisy for this pitcher to take offense when a batter treats him the same way he treats batters when he wins their duels.

On the other hand, what Dietrich did was the equivalent of taunting.

Exuberance is one thing, bad sportsmanship is another, and that’s what this was. The “kids”can play as long as they remember that real kids are watching and learning. I don’t think Roy Hobbs’ pennant-winning home run in “The Natural” was any less dramatic because he didn’t flip his bat, watch the ball go and pump his fist going around the bases.

2. Who’s the most unethical New York Times op-ed columnist? There are so many to choose from, but Michelle Goldberg is climbing fast. I highlighted her indefensible op-ed on the Mueller report recently, but I just stumbled an older column that was worse. In this one, Goldberg bemoans that Freedom House only give the United States an “86” score in ranking how democratic a nation is, dropping the US behind such places you wouldn’t want to live in like Croatia, Latvia, and Greece (Sorry, Yaya), and it’s all Trump’s fault. The score is down from 94 in 2009, when every international organization was hailing anyone and anything connected to Barack Obama, and using numerical scoring to measure something like democracy is obviously nonsense, unless the score furthers your agenda. This is similar to journalists calling organizations “hate groups” because the Southern Poverty Law center say so. It’s pure appeal to authority with an authority that has no credibility: a  logical fallacy.

Does Goldberg persuasively explain why the U.S. is suddenly less democratic? Oddly, she doesn’t mention the collapse of a responsible, trustworthy press—sure that’s worth subtracting at least 12.38 points. She also doesn’t mention how the American Left has been trying for three years to undermine elections and the elected President , or as Victor Davis Hanson writes,

“Are such efforts in the future to be institutionalized? Will the Left nod and keep still, if Republicans attempt to remove an elected Democratic President before his tenure is up? Are appeals to impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and a Special Counsel the now normal cargo of political opposition to any future elected president? Is it now permissible in 2020 for Trump’s FBI director to insert an informant into the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee?”

What do you think, another—let’s see—18.47 points down? Goldberg doesn’t think so: she focuses on such things as Russiagate, though she nods that there have been some positive developments on that front: “Several of the criminals who helped Trump get elected either have gone to prison or soon will.”

Love it. Later Goldberg says that Trump’s attack on fake news somehow made other nations start censoring the news media there. That statement above is an outright lie. None of the individuals Mueller indicted had any role in “helping Trump get elected,” as we now know. But she writes that the report gives us two reasons to worry:

The first is that it usually takes more than two years for a democracy to collapse. “Elsewhere in the world, in places like Hungary, Venezuela or Turkey, Freedom House has watched as democratic institutions gradually succumbed to sustained pressure from an antidemocratic leadership, often after a halting start,” the report said— an increase in corruption and a decrease in transparency — both hallmarks of this administration — are “often early warning indicators of problems in a democracy,” undermining public faith in the legitimacy of the system.”

What corruption is she talking about? The Secretary of State selling influence to foreign power through her fake non-profit? No, it can’t be that. An administration using its Justice Department to illegally try to sabotage an opposing party’s Presidential candidate? What about transparency? Even many liberal commentators say that Trump’s administration is more transparent than Obama’s. And who is undermining faith in the legitimacy of the system more than people like Goldberg, who support baseless Democratic conspiracy theories about a traitorous President and a stolen election?

And reason #2:

“Second, if Americans increasingly ignore Trump’s words, foreign leaders don’t. Authoritarianism is on the rise all over the globe — according to the Freedom House report, this is the 13th consecutive year that global freedom has declined. Trump’s presidency is a consequence of this trend, but it’s also become an accelerant of it.”

It’s the 13th consecutive year according to Goldberg’s dubious source, but Trump’s tweets the past two and a half years are really at fault.

Why is this “fit to print”?

3. If our democracy is failing, here’s one of the real reasons:

In Long Island,  11-year-old Bella Moscato said that she was going to choose the President for a sixth-grade assignment at Samoset Middle School to write about a personal hero. The teacher told her that President Trump was not an appropriate choice, and suggested–guess who!—Barack Obama instead.

Bella’s mother, Valerie Moscato says what the teacher did amounts to intimidation and censorship. Yes, and also indoctrination.

Sachem Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham issued a denial, saying,

It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment, including President Trump. To the best of our knowledge, by choice the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.

The school board is supposedly looking into the matter. The Moscatos want an apology, and if he is smart, the Superintendent will grab the chance to get off easy.  That teacher, however, should be fired.

 

 

No, Ann, The Fact That The Accusation Against Joe Bides Was a “Hit” Doesn’t Mean It Wasn’t Necessary And Right.

Ann Althouse has fallen into the Biden harassment rationalization trap.

How disappointing.

She writes,

“I’m not a Joe Biden fan. I thought he was loathsome in the 2012 VP debate with Paul Ryan (live-blogged here (“Ryan is speaking earnestly about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and Biden is chuckling toothily, his body shaking like Santa Claus”)). And I’m a longtime opponent of sexual harassment (and kept true to the position even when Bill Clinton, the first person I ever voted for for President who won, got accused of it). But this hit job has made me sympathetic to Joe. I’m surprised how distinct and strong my emotional reaction is.”

So am I.

As regular readers here know, Althouse is one of my most quoted commentators here, because she is objective and usually perceptive.  Her mistake in sympathizing with Biden, however, betrays some kind of ethical blind spot. This is the common confusion of motive with conduct.  If the conduct is objectively ethical, then the fact that there may be less than ethical motives behind it doesn’t change anything about the ethics verdict. No doubt about it, the first of the accusations against Biden for sexual harassment and misconduct (There have been more since ) came from a Bernie devotee, and was, as Ann says, a political hit. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce, And Cowards Too: The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, named for the journalist beheaded in 2014 by ISIS forces, had announced that at its dinner Tuesday night at the National Press Club, Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo would receive the “2019 Foley American Hostage Freedom Award.”  The award would recognize Pompeo and the administration’s success at  freeing Americans-held prisoners around the world.

The honor was posted online, as you see above, and Pompeo was duly invited to receive his award. However, the group’s “media sponsors” objected to a member of the Trump Administration being honored, even when the honor was well earned, and prestigious journalists, not that there are such beasts except in their own fantasies, threatened to boycott the event. Why look! There’s Christiane Amanpour as the keynote speaker! Surely she would never engage is such despicable behavior. Surely not.

Continue reading

I Can’t Let THIS Pass…

[For some reason Gilbert and Sullivan quotes are running through my feeble mind this morning. The title is from “Yeomen of the Guard,” which I have directed. It’s not the best of the operettas (though it’s a great show), but it may have the finest score, and I figured out just a couple of weeks ago how to handle its famous shock ending. I hope I get a chance to stage it some day.]

 Michel Martin is the NPR host who in December of 2017 stabbed me in the back by permitting Professor Paul Butler’s on-the-air ambush in the middle of my (100% correct) explanation of how sexual harassment works, and then banned me from her show  because I didn’t sufficiently bolster her anti-Trump agenda. It was my fault…

I foolishly thought providing last minute, authoritative and free ethics commentary for her show for five years meant I could trust her to treat me fairly and with a modicum of respect.

Here was a recent exchange with with Harmeet Dhillon, committeewoman for California’s Republican National Committee, as Martin asked about her reaction to the Mueller report: Continue reading

Aaaand THEY’RE OFF! The Week’s Ethics Race Begins, 4/1/2019: No, Ethics Is Nothing To Fool About…

Good morning!

(and I’m not fooling…)

1. Why is this result considered good news? McLaughlin & Associates, a research firm, conducted a poll online March 18-25 asking the question, “Would you favor or oppose an executive order ensuring that free speech would be protected on all college campuses?” With 1,000 likely 2020 voters thus polled, the results showed 73% in favor of protecting free speech on campus, 18 % opposing, and the typical 9% of slugs who said they were “unsure.” McLaughlin and Associates found “no statistically significant difference by education level, with college graduates favoring the executive order 72 percent to 21 percent and non-college graduates favoring 74 percent to 16 percent.” Similarly, men and women both favored  the executive order at a rate of 73%, and there was no significant difference by party affiliation either.

The fact that less than 75% of American citizens whole-heartedly support freedom of speech in higher education is no less than horrifying, and shows how badly the ahte speech and thought-control termites have gotten into our foundation.

2. Speaking of those inherently untrustworthy polls a Washington Post-Schar School poll found that nearly two-thirds of registered Democrats reject special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of no collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s a “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!” classic, and also demonstrates how believing the mainstream news media agitprop because their biases fit neatly with yours—except you’re not paid to be objective and indep…oh, never mind. Why do I bother?—eats your brain. What in the world to these alleged (poll assertions are always alleged at best) skeptics base their beliefs on, other than the fact that, like Rachel Maddow, they so,so,so want our President to be an impeachable traitor? Mueller spent three years shaking down people and crushing them with his  prosecutorial boot to get evidence of Trump collusion that would stand up in court, and failed. And those Democrats know better? Continue reading