Category Archives: Etiquette and manners

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/2017: TV Comics, Law Deans, Sports And California…Everything Is Seemingly Spinning Out Of Control!

Good Morning!

On the day that the Boston Red Sox will begin their stunning comeback against the Houston Astros …

 

1 Speaking of baseball, a poll shows that the NFL fell from the most popular major sport in the nation last year to the least favorite last month, while baseball regained its traditional but usually treated as fictional “National Pastime” status. The NFL also dragged down the popularity of college football. Not all of this can be blamed on Colin Kaepernick, Black Lives Matters, and incoherent protests that aren’t against the National Anthem, well, maybe its third verse, but take place during the National Anthem, well, because. Ethics Alarms isn’t the only voice that has declared football to be callous and barbaric, now that the game’s unavoidable concussions are being shown to cause a deadly brain disease. Too many helmeted heroes beat their spouses and lovers, and commit felonies. The biggest star in the NFL, Tom Brady, is a smug, cheating jerk. It never helps when the President of the United States, even one like Trump, attacks an institution from the bully pulpit. Still, the timing certainly suggest that the NFL’s botched handling of The Knee is the catalyst for its current nosedive in popularity. Just think how many brains will be saved if this is permanent.

Meanwhile,  Major League Baseball is benefiting from staying true to its traditional national role of unifying the country rather than dividing it. No on-field protests mar the National Anthem. The sport is entertainment, celebrating American themes like individualism, the triumph of the underdog, and grace under pressure. In 1942, FDR urged Major League Baseball to keep playing, even though the remaining players were unfit for military service, leaving the teams stocked with older players and a collection of misfits, like Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder.  After Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote President Roosevelt in January, FDR replied with this letter the same day:

It is not, however, in the best interest of the country to keep the NFL “going.” Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2017: Trump At His Worst, Justice Ginsburg At Her Worst, The Times At Its Worst…Yechhhh.

Maybe THIS will be good morning…

1  When I kept reading rants about President Trump’s comments in Puerto Rico, I naturally assumed this was just more of the same: the Trump Deranged seeking out the worst possible interpretation of his words to justify going on another orgy of Trump-Hate. Unfortunately, his remarks were arguably even worse than his critics made them sound. Ugh. Trump’s body language and tone were antagonistic from the start. The man couldn’t control his resentment of the flack he received, much of it unfair, from the mayor of San Juan, so he had a chip on his shoulder, and expressed his annoyance by being petty, arrogant, callous and insulting. It was embarrassing to watch it.

The man is an asshole. This is not news. Now and then I nurture hopes that he will learn, as other Presidents who were assholes—there have been many—have leaned, to suppress the worst of their proclivities in public. Doing this is in the best interests of the nation, and also is crucial to maintaining the power and influence of a Presidency. A display like this is like a face full of ice water for me.

I am officially certifying the Trump Presidency Ethics Train Wreck.

I agree: I’m about 9 months late.

2. Appearing before an audience at New York City’s 92nd St. YWCA, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked by CBS journalist Charlie Rose whether she thought sexism played a role in the presidential election results. She responded that anti-female bias was “a major, major factor” in Clinton’s defeat. As Jonathan Turley, who has repeatedly criticized this and other Justices for for making political statements that undermine the credibility and trustworthiness of the Supreme Court, takes pains to explain, this claim is unsupportable, except in Hillary Clinton’s tortured brain:

Hillary Clinton and her key aides have blamed the election in part on self-hating women who would not vote for Clinton — dismissing that women could have entirely independent judgment rejecting Clinton on the merits.  Indeed recent polls show that Clinton would still lose to Trump despite his unpopularity with many voters.  According to the New York Times, Clinton carried only 54 percent of the female vote against Donald Trump. However, nearly twice as many white women without college degrees voted for Trump than for Hillary and she basically broke almost even on college-educated white women (with Hillary taking 51 percent). Trump won the majority of white women at 53 percent.  Clinton’s continued criticism of women as being self-haters was denounced recently as itself a sexist argument.  In an interview with VoxClinton said white women just do what men tell them to do:

“All of a sudden, the husband turns to the wife, ‘I told you, she’s going to be in jail. You don’t wanna waste your vote.’ The boyfriend turns to the girlfriend and says, ‘She’s going to get locked up, don’t you hear? She’s going to get locked up. Instead of saying, ‘I’m taking a chance, I’m going to vote,’ it didn’t work.”

It is not hard to imagine what the response would have been to someone else dismissing female voters as just a bunch of clinging mindless voters following the directions of their men.  

Never mind: Ginsburg got her seat on the Court by being a woman’s issues advocate, and feminists have to bolster the narrative even when it is utter garbage, as this one is. She’s in her eighties, and clearly is well-into the “I don’t give a damn” phase of life. One of the things she apparently doesn’t give a damn about is judicial ethics.

The correct answer to Rose’s question, the George Washington University law professor points out, was “to say that justices do not, and should not, hold forth on political issues.”

Bingo.

3. It has come to this: Yesterday, the New York Time’s editorial was headlined “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.” It consisted of calendar graphs that claimed, for example, that there were 27 mass shootings in September, and implied that action from Congress could have reduced the number.

Here is an op-ed the same paper in December of 2015, before the Times went completely nuts and abandoned all semblance of responsible journalism:

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

Now the New York Times wants to contribute to the noise.

4. The Times’ biases have their uses, of course. They sometime blind reporters to what their own stories actually tell us, thus letting some ugly cats out of the bag for all to see and smell. There is this article, for example,  in which various film-makers and academics discuss how to employ mass-distribution films to change public opinion regarding climate change with.

The article is endorsing indoctrination and propaganda, without ever acknowledging that this is what it is really being discussed. You know, like “The Triumph of the Will.”

The ignorant sheep-like public must be led to believe what we believe, because that is what will result in the greater good. We have a shining example of the danger to democracy when entertainment, popular culture and media are committed to one political ideology.

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Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

“Stop quoting Maxine Waters!”

I just arrived at Virginia Beach Double Tree after a four hour plus drive in the dead of night. This gave amble time to obsess to the point of madness on Facebook post I saw from a friend. This is a smart, educated person; published in fact. Yet the post was (I am paraphrasing):

“I don’t understand Republicans. They must prefer Pence to Trump: why won’t the join Democrats in impeaching the orange bastard? I don’t get it.”

This post garnered many likes in the Facebook echo chamber, and several theories.

Now, this is not just an uninformed opinion. It is a dangerous opinion. It misinforms everyone who reads it and who has reason to trust and respect the writer. It is written in complete ignorance of the Constitution, and an irresponsible misinterpretation of what American democracy is.

I shouldn’t have to explain this further, but what the hell: if the Founders intended for our system to be a modified parliamentary arrangement where the public can try to elect a President but if Congress decides it prefers someone else, like the Vice-President, it can veto the election with a sufficient majority, then Madison, Mason et al. would have made that clear. Instead they made it clear that an elected President can only be impeached upon a guilty verdict in a Senate trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which means unequivocal, serious and substantive wrongdoing, usually criminal. Yet a frightening number of progressives, driven to fantasy by listening to irresponsible and incompetent elected demagogues like Maxine Waters, actually embrace an imaginary version of our government that, if real, would render democracy a cruel fraud. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/1/2017: Puerto Rico, Baseball Ethics, And Good Riddance To Hugh Hefner

Gooood Morning October!

1 And with October comes the wonderful post-season of that all-American sports that does not leave its athletes with brain disease, that requires some erudition and an attention span longer than a terrier puppy’s to appreciate, and that does not subject its fans to incoherent political theater as part of the price of watching a game. Yes, “it’s baseball, Ray.”

Yesterday the Boston Red Sox finally clinched the America League East title, the first time in over a century that this perverse team has won a championship in consecutive years. In other words, nothing can spoil my mood today.

There are a couple of baseball ethics notes, too:

  • In Miami, Giancarlo Stanton has one last game to hit his 60th home run, which would make him the sixth major league to reach that mark in baseball history. Two of the six, Babe Ruth, whose 60 homers in 1927 stood as the season record for 34 years, and Roger Maris, the Yankee who broke the record with 61 in something of a fluke season, reached the mark fairly. The other three, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, were steroid cheats. Ever since Stanton caught fire after the All-Star break and looked for a while as if he would exceed 61, wags have been saying that he would become the “real” record holder, since the totals of Mark, Sammy and Barry ( 73, the current record, in 2001) shouldn’t count. Of course they should count. They have to count. The games were official, the runs counted, the homers are reflected in the statistics of the pitchers, the teams, and records of the sport. Bonds should have been suspended before he broke any records, but baseball blew it. Saying his homers (and Sosa’s, and McGwire’s) don’t count is like arguing that Samuel J. Tilden, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton were elected President.

Integrity exists in layers, and the ultimate integrity is accepting reality. The 1919 Reds won the World Series, fixed or not. O.J. is innocent in the eyes of the law, and Roger Maris no longer holds baseball single season home run record.

  • In Kansas City, manager Ned Yost did something gracious, generous, and strange. The Royals, a small market team that won two championships with a core of home grown, low-visibility stars, now face losing all or most of them to big free agent contracts that the team simply cannot afford. Fans are often bitter about such venal exits, and teams usually fan the flames of resentment: better that the market be angry at the players than the organization. After Red Sox fan favorite Johnny Damon, a popular symbol of the 2004 World Series winning club, left for greener pastures in the New York Yankees outfield, he was jeered every time he came to bat in Fenway Park for the rest of his career.

But Ned Yost, who will be left with a shell of his team and a new bunch of kids to manage in KC next year, was not going to let the players who made him a winner depart amidst anger and recriminations. During yesterday’s 4-3 victory in front of the home crowd at Kauffman Stadium, Yost engineered an emotional curtain call for all four of the players who were probably playing their last games as Royals.

He pulled them from the game, one by one, all while the team was in the field or the player on the bases, so each could get a long standing ovation: Eric Hosmer in the moments before the fifth inning; Mike Moustakas with one out in the sixth. Lorenzo Cain for a pinch runner. Alcides Escobar in the middle of the seventh.

Nice.

And none of them took a knee on the way out…

2. I have been researching to find any objective reports that support the claim that the federal government and FEMA are not doing their best to help Puerto Rico. There aren’t any. There are plenty of videos of the devastation, but even the New York Times, which is the head cheerleader for anti-Trump porn, has only been able to muster headlines about the relief effort being criticized. All of my Facebook friends writing—it’s really dumb, everybody—about how Trump is uncaring as they signal their virtue by telling us how their hearts go out to the residents of the island literally know nothing about the relief efforts. They don’t know anything about the planning, the logistics, the problems or what is feasible. Nonetheless, they think they have standing to say that it is incompetent, or slow (which means, slower than it has to be), or, and  anyone who says this better not say it to me, based on racism. Their assertions arise out of pure partisan bias, bolstered by convenient ignorance.

Vox’s Matt Yglesias, one of the knee-jerk doctrinaire leftists in the commentary world who does an especially poor job hiding his malady,  attempted to take a shot at the Trump administration by tweeting,

“The US government supplied Berlin for nearly a year by air despite a Soviet blockade using late-1940s technology.”

This is only a valid comparison for the willfully obtuse. You can’t airlift electricity and water, or a communication and transportation infrastructure that is necessary to distribute supplies. Berlin was surrounded, but it had all of these. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/29/2017: A Rude Librarian, Another Incoherent Knee, I Need To Start Listening To My Own Lectures, And Did YOU Know That “Green Eggs And Ham” Was Racist?

Good Morning!

1 In the middle of yesterday’s continuing legal education seminar on technology and legal ethics, I was telling the attendees about the dangers of all things Google. As I was explaining why lawyers should never, never do legal business on a gmail account, I added that they also have an obligation to tell their clients that there is not a sufficient expectation of privacy when they use gmail to communicate with their attorney. Then I literally froze and stared into space.

“I just realized that one of my recent consulting clients, a lawyer, has been sending all of his communications and documents to me using gmail,” I said. I had noticed it, but it still didn’t trigger the response that I have been teaching to others for at least three years.

As a wise man once said, “D’oh!”

2. In the “I can keep it up as long as they can” category: There is now a viral photo of some idiot taking a kneel  during Taps at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Continue reading

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Now THIS Is An Unethical Stickler For Policy…

I love this story! It’s a classic example of the unethical bureaucratic mindset. It shows that it isn’t only American brain-on-autopilot officials who embarrass the human race this way. Best of all, it’s from France, as far away from the ridiculous NFL protest than isn’t a protest and the President’s obsession with it as possible.

Frenchman Philippe Croizon gained international fame in 2010 when he swam the English Channel without the use of his arms or legs, because he has no arms or legs. He is almost certainly the most famous quadruple amputee in the world, and definitely the best armless and legless long-distance swimmer, if you don’t count fish. Yet when he recently tried to board a train, he was blocked by a railway employee who asked for proof that he was disabled. (Disabled passengers get a discount on train tickets in France). Here is Croizon…

The controller insisted on seeing his state issued disability card.  Croizon was in a wheelchair. He has no legs or arms. Never mind: if you can’t prove you’re disabled by producing the proper documentation, the controller insisted, then you aren’t disabled.

Eventually other passengers made such a commotion that the controller gave up and took Croizon at his word. When I first started reading about this, I thought that the guy was arguing that if Cruizon could swim the channel, he wasn’t disabled. Of course, this would mean that French porpoises couldn’t get their discounts either. Or the Little Mermaid.

Croizon is apparently an amazingly nice guy. He tweeted about the incident, but unlike everyone who has read about it and responded on social media, he refuses to condemn his tormenter, and wrote the controller was just doing his job.

“I wanted to take things with a sense of humor and do not get to insults,” he wrote. “This gentleman may have had a bad day, he may be tired, I don’t know.”

It was generous and kind for Croizon to try to give this officious fool a hand,  but he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

(I’m sorry.)

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Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!’ Files: The Golden Rule”

A commenter on the post on the studio tantrum thrown by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell going viral on YouTube after it was leaked said that such a leak was “predictable.” I asked,

“Why should it be “predictable”? Why shouldn’t we be able to trust co-workers not to try to hurt us, e-mail correspondents not to send out our messages to strangers and on social media? Was it predictable that Donald Sterling’s mistress/beard would tape his comments in his bedroom to destroy his reputation?”

This prompted Crella’s  Comment of the Day on the post, From The “Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!” Files: The Golden Rule:

Exactly. It shouldn’t be predictable. However, it seems that for a lot of people, their first instinct with anything they come across is to put it on the net, no matter the consequences. It’s so easy ( and I assume, extremely satisfying to bully types) to shame and humiliate on a scale previously unknown in human history. It’s irresistible to too many.

The ability to find thousands of like-minded people in a relatively short period of time on social media, and the sheer volume of encouraging positive feedback you can receive ( ‘if so many people agree with me, I must be right!’) has brought grade-school level cliques and meanness to the fore in a great deal of adult communication. It’s the same mechanism on a large scale. People rarely step back and see themselves, but I read and just wonder at it daily…the people most stridently against fat shaming, objectification, being leered at, and other ‘lookist’ offenses on social media are routinely ridiculing Trump on his hair, weight, skin color, and posture while playing golf, comments on appearance are very common. Continue reading

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