Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/2020: I’m So Sorry I Missed Your Birthday, Mr. Lincoln.

I am awash with shame.

Yesterday was Abe Lincoln’s birthday, and I didn’t remember until late last night. This is the inevitable result of Presidents Day, the lazy combination of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays into one floating holiday that lumps all our Presidents together as if they were equally laudable. (They are all laudable, but not equally.) Thus Franklin Pierce gets as much love from our calendar as Abe and George, which is ridiculous. ( President Pierce’s birthday I remember, because it’s the same date as my wedding anniversary, November 23.) In the old days before the blight of Presidents Day, school children would spend both February 12 and 22  learning about and doing projects related Lincoln or Washington. Without either of these great leaders, we probably don’t have a nation today, or if we do, it would be a vastly diminished one. Our first and Sixteenth Presidents tower over the rest in leadership ability, vision, and impact on our history and culture. Both deserve their own holiday, because every American should take at least a day out of every year to remember these two icons and honor their essential contributions, at great sacrifice, to the existence of the United States of America as well as the welfare of all of its citizens, past, present and future.

Today, most Americans couldn’t describe what Lincoln said at Gettysburg, and that’s not a recent phenomenon. In the classic movie “Ruggles of Red Gap,” a barroom full of Americans in a Western frontier town are unable to recall Lincoln’s message, but the very British butler, recently immigrated, can. Charles Laughton, who played the butler, continued to deliver Lincoln’s masterpiece throughout his career after that scene became the highlight of the movie. You can watch it here—I’d embed it, but there is no YouTube version.

1. Self promotion dept. I’ll be participating in a live podcast later today, discussing the ethical implications of nepotism. Details to come.

2. Still more developments in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Earlier this morning I watched a live press conference from the Astros Spring Training camp about the sign stealing scheme. From a public relations standpoint, the spectacle made the Astros problems worse.

Stars  Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve spoke for a grand total of 90 seconds, sounding for all the world  like American prisoners of war in North Korea. Owner Jim Crane did most of the talking, which was unfortunate for the Astros and baseball. He  took no responsibility at all for what went on in 2017, though he was at the top of the organization chart: this is called the “Ken Lay excuse.” Worse, Crane repeatedly refused to acknowledge that using a secret camera to relay to the Astros dugout the opposing catchers’ signs telling pitchers what to throw, which were then relayed to  Astros batters by players banging on trash cans, constituted cheating. All Crane would say was “We broke the rules. We can argue about what you want to call it.”

Worse still, Crane said that it was impossible to say whether the team’s full year of sign stealing, including the playoffs and the World Series (which the Astros won), gave his team a competitive advantage. “Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t” he said. “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”

In later interviews with the players after the press conference, it sounded like everyone had been prepped to keep saying “2017” over and over, because there are lingering suspicions that the Astros scam extended into 2018 and 2019. As commentator Matt Vasgersian mused afterward on the MLB cable channel, if the Astros had won a championship cheating all the way through 2017 and hadn’t been caught, why would they suddenly stop the next season? Continue reading

Biden’s Attack On Mayor Pete

A Pointer to Ann Althouse for flagging this.

The Biden camp released this attack ad today. Althouse opined that it employed race-baiting and homophobia.

She’s right. The race-baiting is obvious: Joe Biden learned the lesson of the Obama administration and “Black Lives Matter”; if a white person does or says anything negative affecting a black person, it’s racist. The gay-bashing is insidious, and I have no question that it is intentional. Biden’s marketing team could have emphasized many minor aspects of a small city mayor’s duties to make the same point, but it deliberately chose topics like brightly-colored lights to make the river look fabulous, and ornamental bricks.

The fact that Mayor Pete is gay has been almost entirely ignored in media coverage, however, and if you don’t know Buttigieg is gay, none of the homophobic dog whistles  will reach your ears. I showed the video to my wife, and she noticed none of them because, I was surprised to learn, she didn’t know Mayor Pete is gay. Once I told her, she agreed that the ad probably intended to remind those who are.

The fact that Buttigieg is gay is irrelevant to his qualifications for the Presidency, but his sexual orientation is the Woolly Mammoth in the room regarding his electability. Anti-gay prejudice is not the exclusive domain of the Deplorables; it runs high in the African American community and among Hispanics as well.

I think Biden’s ad is unethical.

My still recuperating wife had another interesting reaction. She found it obnoxious for Biden to have the chutzpah to mention his role in passing the Violence Against Women Act when he habitually and unapologetically gropes women of all ages in public.

He does, you know.

OK, I Have No Idea What This Is. Help Me Out. Please.

Alyssa Nakken played first base on the Sacramento State women’s softball team from 2009 to 2012, being named all-conference three times  and Academic All American all four years. She  earned a master’s degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco in 2015, and interned with the San Francisco Giants’ baseball operations department for a year during that period.

Now she has become the first female major league coach.  New San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler added her to his staff. Whether it was his idea or not is unknown.

What is her job? The Associated Press is a bit vague:

“Nakken will be in uniform and helping the Giants with everything from cage work to infield practice,” its feature says. The AP adds:

Kapler and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have all the confidence in Nakken’s ability to help build clubhouse continuity through stronger bonds between young players and veterans…A polished speaker who has become adept at hiding any nerves, Nakken is taking initiative early. She put on a two-day coaches retreat this week that included a “culinary experience” — much more than “a food tour,” she said — through San Francisco’s historic and diverse Mission District..

Nakken doesn’t claim to be an expert on hitting or pitching. She plans to assist coaches on both sides, and will also work a lot on outfield defense and baserunning. Nakken will be in uniform but not in the dugout during games, rather working with players in the cage to keep them ready..

Do you see my problem? 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

Kneeling Snake Ethics.

PETA is so tone deaf, so irrational, and so devoid of functioning ethics alarms, it is depressing that the group has so much support. (Here’s an Ethics Alarms compendium of some of their unethical misadventures. ) Currently the group is grandstanding—again–by harassing the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, arguing that “Phil” should be replaced with an animatronic groundhog. Whatever. (This is Groundhog Day, you know. This is Groundhog Day, you know.) That nonsense, however, has been superseded by the uproar caused by the obnoxious TV ad above.

After it was rejected by the NFL–I don’t know why: I am very much in favor of letting foolish groups expose their foolishness to the nation and pay a bundle for the privilege–PETA  released it anyway. As you can see, it shows cute animated animals, including a snake, “taking a knee” like Colin Kaepernick and his acolytes  as “The Star Spangled Banner” is hummed in the background. Big mistake.

Heh, heh, heh...

The ad was quickly criticized as stupid, of course, since it is,  for the “kneeling” snake and fish.  Others called it disrespectful to the United States, the National Anthem and veterans.  The Snake Anti-Defamation League sent a venomous letter of protest. OK, that was a joke.

This isn’t: PETA was accused of “appropriating” Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice and police brutality and attempting to equate black men to animals. This is the group that has argued that the Bill of Rights applies to whales and lower primates, so this shouldn’t be a shock.

The Root took aim and fired: “PETA colonized the Black Lives Matter Movement; disrespected Colin Kaepernick’s protest against injustice, and made a mockery of 400 years of systemic oppression by comparing Black lives to grizzly bears and bald eagles.”

But animals have been abused by humans since the cave men!

Erica Cobb, co-host of Daily Blast LIVE called PETA’s ad “disrespectful,” adding,”Black people already feel like dogs having clean drinking water is more important than black people have clean drinking water.”

The hashtag #PETA is suddenly all over social media, and not in a good way. Anita Sarkeesian, feminist activist, tweeted,

“Not wanting to add more views or attention to PETA but I’m so tired of how consistently their ‘activism’ is deeply oppressive, offensive, and degrading to ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS. Of course, we shouldn’t be cruel to animals but the real oppression of Black folks is not equivalent.”

PETA, not surprisingly since nobody associated with the group seems to have any properly functioning ethics alarms, then started blocking critics on Twitter, but not before trying the Rationalizations known as The Unethical Role Model (#32) and The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?” (#42) by trotting out Kaepernick himself to say that he doesn’t mind the ad. (Hmmm…should I add a Rationalization called “The Idiot’s Endorsement”?)

It couldn’t happen to a nicer advocacy group.

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2020: In Which The Conundrum Is Posed, “Can A Warmed-Up Warm-Up Still Be Called A Warm-Up?

Hmmmm…

Well, that was strange. Yesterday’s warm-up turned into the long post about Judge Staton’s disturbing dissent, and by the time I had finished it and the previous “fake news” compendium, my window for getting the Saturday Warm-Up up had slammed shut. Today’s Warm-Up is largely made up of the items that were wiped off the board by the Obama-appointed judge’s “whenever the courts really, really think national policy should be different from what it is, they have the power to change it by edict” opinion.

1. Sausage biscuit ethics. I’m fond of sausage biscuits for breakfast, but the 7-11 variety have a garbage-y taste, and the sole local McDonald’s that I’m not boycotting for ethics transgressions is mobbed in the morning. Of the frozen variety, I will not patronize a company, Jimmy Dean, which uses its dead founder as a TV spokesperson without pointing out that he’s dead. Over the holidays, I tried a lesser and much cheaper brand of frozen sausage biscuit, Tennessee Pride, and they were good enough.

Yesterday I bought another box. When I pulled out a bag of two “sausage biscuits,” I saw that the sausage was sitting between two small buns, unlike the contents of the previous box. Buns are not biscuits, but the label on the box read in large type, “Sausage Biscuits.” I did notice, however, that the photo on the box showed buns.

Would that fact be a complete defense against an accusation of false labeling? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. “Fool me once” is once too many.

2. Res Ipsa Loquitur: “an informed public.” Twitter user @Golfergirl2018  shared a post she saw on Facebook, written by someone who sympathizes with antivaxx parents (you know…morons) who don’t want to put “chemicals” in their kids. “I think instead of chemical shots the doctors should give a small piece of the virus, so the body can build immunity,” he wrote.

BRILLIANT! Why didn’t someone think of that long ago?

Yes, it is unethical and irresponsible to publish opinions on topics you haven’t researched, don’t understand, and know nothing about. I wonder how many social media posts would survive if this were recognized as a rule of commentary? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020: Oh, Great, A Red Sox Ethics Scandal….

Bad Morning.

1. Fire this copy writer: Boll and Branch sheets informed me this morning that their product is “loved by THREE American Presidents.” Well, that settles it: I’m running right out and buying these sheets if Presidents—well, three, anyway, love them. Actually, I’m making the sheets an early target of my new rule to personally boycott any product that insults my intelligence with their ads or packaging.

So much for Chex-Mix.

2. I just realized what climate change hype is like. I’m slow, I guess. I was reading a typical Paul Krugman column about how we are doomed by climate change and only the mean, stupid Republicans refuse to accept it. (The runaway brush fires in Australia, he said, can’t be proven to have come about by climate change, the brilliant economist said, but everybody knows its climate change. All Democrats, anyway.) It then hit me: climate change is like all the reflex explanations for bad things that primitive civilizations, cults and Machiavellian leaders have used to relieve public fears of  random misfortune since the beginning of time. The devil, angry gods, witches, Jews…anything to be able to rationalize events that otherwise have no explanation.  If you sacrifice people to the gods, hang the witches or exterminate the Jews, you’ll feel better—you’re doing something by addressing the cause of all your pain. Of course, these imaginary “causes” aren’t really responsible for what’s happening, but its comforting to “do something.” In the case of climate change, the proxy trouble-makers are capitalism, personal liberty and democracy. Just get rid of them, and everything will be all right again.

I don’t know why it too so long for me to figure this out. I think it’s because I persist in the romantic notion that we all get smarter over time. I certainly don’t. Continue reading