Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/2020: Wuhan Virus-Free Zone. Well, Almost…

Good morning.

Stir crazy yet?

I have discovered, in my ongoing efforts to get traffic here back to 2016 levels, before Facebook banned the blog and The Great Exodus Of The Trump Deranged, that daily visits are 20% higher if I get a post up before 8 am. This has often caused me to get out of bed at 4 am or earlier to hit the keyboard. Today I couldn’t do it: I was so anxious last night about all the looming cancellations of my ethics programs that I barely got any sleep. Sure enough, I’m down about 400 visits compared to yesterday.

There are remarkably few comments on the Paige Spiranac saga. Well, I thought it was interesting. I also must confess that the post was in part for beloved long-time commenter Lucky, who I hope is still following the blog. Paige is his type.

I have concluded that a large number of my Facebook Friends block my posts from their feeds, because they’d rather read the daily wave of anti-Trump columns from the likes of Paul Krugman, Jennifer Rubin, and Michelle Goldberg without any unsettling clarifications from me. I have never unfriended anyone who didn’t personally insult me, but I’d unfriend someone for that. It reminds me of the “Black Mirror” episode where you can block someone in real life, and then they can’t see you, communicate with you, and vice versa.

I’m procrastinating finishing Part III of the Wuhan Virus ethics series. It covers politics and the news media, and the content makes me so angry I can’t see straight. Increasingly I’ve been wanting to write like Kurt Schlichter, the novelist/conservative gadfly, who writes things like,

“But the battle is really for the shriveled heart of the Democrat Party, and no one better represents the yin and the yang of that dying collection of power-hungry elitists and grasping greedos than the doddering socialist Sanders and that Biden guy who should by all rights be chasing that damn know-it-all squirrel around the park.”

I can write like that, I have written like that in the past, and I enjoy writing like that, but its not ethical. Schlichter recently wrote that a snarling Hillary Clinton would pop out of Joe Biden’s chest at the Democratic National Convention like in “Alien.”   What a great image…

1. Do you feel like you are being conditioned and brain washed against your will? In addition to Hollywood’s efforts to change the race or gender of every white male hero of yore, TV commercials are now giving sex changes and race overhauls to iconic characters in ads. “Mikey” in a new Life cereal commercial is a little girl. “Jake from State Farm” is now a black guy. I really don’t care who plays “Mikey” or “Jake from State Farm.” I do object to intrusive woke propaganda.

I’m waiting for Tony the Tiger to show up as a black panther and for a new Jolly Green Giantess…

…who goes “Hee Hee Hee!” Continue reading

Paige Spiranac, The King’s Pass, Self-Promotion And The Not So Great But Incredibly Hot Female Pro Golfer Principle

Well,  Paige, if you read Ethics Alarms, which I’m sure is popular fare on the ladies’ pro golf tour, you would know the answer. To the average member of the public, yes, being a winner absolutely ‘holds more weight” than being a good person.

Your sport is golf, not baseball, but a famous baseball manager said, “Nice guys finish last.” It’s not football, either, but an even more famous football coach said, “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” [Aside: the quote is most frequently identified with Vince Lombardi, and it is very likely that he used it. Late in his career, however, he rejected that sentiment in favor of more measured statements, On the Lombardi website there are many quotes about winning, bu not that one. Lombardi wasn’t the originator anyway: UCLA football coach Henry ‘Red’ Sanders was, around 1950.]

In general, though, in  and out of sports, what you have articulated is “The King’s Pass,” or “The Star Syndrome,” which is one of the Ethics Alarms rationalizations, as well as one of the five most common and most damaging on the entire list of 100. It says, in the short version,

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head. In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

Paige Spiranac comes to her lament from an interesting perspective.  The 26-year old is a former golfer on the women’s pro tour. When she was competing, she often complained that she wasn’t taken seriously because of her appearance. That seems to be half true: she wasn’t taken seriously because of her appearance and because she was suspected of being more interested in building a career as a sex symbol than as a golfer. This is part of our culture’s sexism problem. Beautiful women are stereotyped and seen as sexual objects first and serious professionals second, if at all. Yet some beautiful women exploit their attractiveness to advance in their profession. That’s a valid choice, but they can’t ethically complain that people see their face and form rather than their skill and character when they are the ones putting the former on prominent display.

Eventually Paige decided that her middling success on the links would be over-shadowed profit-wise by her moving into the bathing suit modeling, fashion, and social influencer areas. I have no idea why she decided to strike out on that course. By the way, here’s Paige in her old career…

…and her new one:

Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Recent Developments In The Democratic Nomination Race

  • From CBS News: “Congregants at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, silently protested 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg as he delivered remarks there Sunday, standing and turning their backs on the former New York City mayor. Bloomberg addressed the congregation at Brown Chapel AME Church during a church service in which he discussed voter suppression and the fight for civil rights. But roughly 10 minutes into his remarks, several in attendance rose from their seats and silently turned away from him.The churchgoers remained standing through the end of Bloomberg’s remarks.”

Comment: Go ahead, Mike, spend your way out of this.

I had so many annoying discussions with Facebook Trump-haters who were  pinning their desperate hopes on Bloomberg to take the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump in November. Their logic: he would spend however much money it took. But people, even smart and experienced people, tend to wildly over-estimate the power of money, marketing, and advertising. People are lazy, gullible and often stupid, but they aren’t that lazy, gullible and stupid: no amount of hype and saturation advertising will persuade a market that a  self-evidently bad product is a good one.  Bloomberg is a bad product, at least for the Presidency. His record is wrong, his tools are inadequate, his character won’t be tolerated outside of the Big Apple. Hatred of Trump isn’t enough, and, as the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love.”

  • Here’s the President of the United States doing a “Dorf” imitation to mock Bloomberg’s height.

Comment: I mention this because it’s funny. Wrong, but funny. Otherwise, I’m not going to complain about how un-presidential it is. This is how Trump is, and if he’s the President, this what Trump being President is and will be. Like it, tolerate it, or lump it.

The Julie Principle. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On This Hilarious Trolling Competition

  • The President  wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.

The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.

  • It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?

Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?

Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.

Ethics values: Honesty, integrity, competence, diligence. Continue reading

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