Sunday Morning Alarms, 4/5/2020: After The First Two Items, You Won’t Want To Read Any More And Will Just Go Back To Bed…

….like I did…

1. KABOOM! Pennsylvanian Anita Shaffer, 19, decided to flee her York County home  a week ago for a mental health drive.  On her way back home, two Pennsylvania State Police officers stopped her about her car’s faulty tail-light. While talking with the officers,  Shaffer told them that she was just “going for a drive.” In response, they wrote her a ticket for more than $202.25 for violating the Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

That’s the citation above. It says Shaffer “failed to abide by the order of the governor and secretary of health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses as of 20:00 hours on March 19, 2020. To wit, defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect,”

State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski explained the ticket, saying, “Troopers have been encouraged to use contacts with the public as opportunities to reinforce the necessity to abide by stay-at-home orders.”

And how, exactly, does ticketing an individual who is engaged in conduct that cannot possibly infect anyone  accomplish  that?

Well, Tarkowski blathered,  being a soulless bureaucrat incapable of admitting that THE STATE is full of it in this case, “Troopers maintain discretion to warn or issue citations and the decision is specific to the facts and circumstances of a particular encounter.”

Fine. These facts do not justify a ticket by any stretch of the imagination. The officers’ discretion shows they are not qualified to wield the power they have. Indeed, the citation magnifies the extreme arbitrariness of such orders, and their danger when those charged with enforcing them have the judgment of Gestapo officers.

I’m surprised the cops didn’t slap her around a little, shoot her in the kneecap or even rape her, you know, to show the defiant prole who’s boss and not to ever, ever defy Big Brother.

Tarkowski also said Shaffer’s citation is the only one issued for violating the stay-at-home order. It’s good that the police picked a representative one to symbolize the Pennsyvania message to it’s citizens, which is apparently, “You will do as you are told, underlings.”

Well, not to be crude, but screw that.

Shaffer told reporters  she was within her rights to operate her car, and plans on challenging the citation.  Good. And again I ask, where is our vaunted American Civil Liberty Union on this issue? For three years, we have been hearing false cries of outrage about how the President is an autocrat just waiting to crush our civil rights, and now, when the civil rights of citizens are being ignored by tin pot governors all over the country, the ACLU just shrugs and sighs in its bunker, “It’s for the greater good.”

Oh..there was nothing wrong with her tail light. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/26/2020: Feeling Like Inigo Montoya

Good morning and I’m ticked off…

I know I ran that same clip recently. Never mind; when it’s appropriate, it’s appropriate. (The segment of “The Princess Bride” above is one of the top 6 ethics movie clips used on Ethics Alarms, the others being Otter’s declaration that it’s time to do something really stupid and futile (“Animal House”); “You know: morons!” (“Blazing Saddles”); the Devil speech (“A Man For All Seasons”); the Duke busting a bully in the face after saying that he wouldn’t (“McClintock”); and the Caine mutineers’ lawyer explaining that it is the duty of a crew to support their captain whether they like him or not (“The Caine Mutiny.”)

1. Do people know what “We’re in this together” means? I don’t think it means what they think it does. I just was sent an email copied in to 25 other people who I do not know, touting a 2015 Bill Gates TED Talk  about the dangers of viral contagions (as if his point hadn’t been made more vividly and earlier by Tom Clancy , Michael Crichton, and Stephen King. ) The letter also alluded to the “denier in chief” and once again flogged the Big Lie that the President  claimed that the virus was a hoax. The Pavlovian Deranged on the list immediately responded with short messages all echoing the theme of what an idiot Trump is.

I’ve had enough of this. I replied to all: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2020: Mrs. Jobs, Senator Schumer, Mayor de Blasio, And A Possum

Hi!

I’m working on Part III of the Wuhan virus ethics series, so I’m going to try to keep related matters to a minimum here. A couple links you can check out to relieve me of the necessity of commenting on them: Here’s Ann Althouse writing about her “social distancing” without, apparently, any awareness that the average American is not retired, financially well off, with a spouse, with grown children, who are happy blogging and reading all day. And here’s Ruth Marcus, long one of the more blatantly biased (and dim) members of the Washington Post’s editorial board, authoring an op ed with the head exploding headline,Why Joe Biden is the antidote to this virus.” I intend to keep this utter crap on file for the next time someone argues that degrees from elite institutions are evidence of intellectual ability. Marcus has a Yale and Harvard  Law degree.

1.  Rich people have a right to their wealth; it’s a shame, though, that their riches can’t buy IQ points, or the wisdom to know when to shut up. Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve , told the New York Times,

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined. There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way….I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth. I am doing this in honor of his work, and I’ve dedicated my life to doing the very best I can to distribute it effectively, in ways that lift up individuals and communities in a sustainable way. I’m not interested in legacy wealth building, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

What a stupid, ethics-challenged, smug and selfish person. The tell is offering the non-argument that people being able to make as much money as they can and want isn’t “fair” and that it “shouldn’t be that way.” How articulate and persuasive! Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/7/2020: “Rosie,” Hervis, And An Irish Idiot

Mornin’!

Boy, I wish I was in Fort Myers, at the Red Sox Spring Training camp, instead of at my desk, obsessing…

1. Report from the social media wars: The tone among the Facebook Borg has shifted dramatically. The Trump Hate is as strong as ever, but the lack of enthusiasm over Joe Biden is palpable, and the Bernie Bros. clearly see the writing on the wall. The posts by the more rational infected are full of hopes that Joe will be so weakened by age and dementia that he’ll let “good people” run the show. Most troubling of all are the discouraged Warren fans, who appear to have been permanently disabled. Even the fact that Massachusetts Democrats had reached the unavoidable conclusion that she was a fraud and couldn’t be trusted—for a “Favorite Daughter” of a state to finish third in a state primary is almost unprecedented—can’t penetrate those Trump Derangement hardened skulls. A genuine friend, not  a pure Facebook variety, wrote that he had read my “arguments” that Warren was a lying fraud and found them “unpersuasive.” This guy’s a tenured college professor! What I wrote weren’t arguments, they were facts. That the mainstream media  didn’t widely publicize those facts—more people know about the President’s typos than know that Warren lied about being “chased around a desk” by a male superior who was in a wheelchair at the time, or her false spin claiming that she had fought for female plaintiffs in a lawsuit where her client was a defendant corporation—is beside the point. The entire period from Trump’s election to the present has been an experiment is selective perception of reality. Every day now, I have to check my ethics alarms to prevent me from posting an intentionally pain-inflicting message that says to the people who have been trading “likes” and “loves” over daily hate-pieces of various levels of truth and have been excoriating anyone who points out the danger inherent to  efforts to undo an election:

“Your party is going to lose, and lose ugly. It’s going to lose because it rejected democracy, and behaved disgracefully, dividing the nation while accusing the President of exactly the misconduct they were engaging in themselves. And you, the mob, have applauded and cheered while they did this, attacking anyone who tried to bring rationality to the discussion. You deserve what’s coming. You deserve the misery it will cause you. I’m sure you will blame anyone and anything in sight, but it will be your fault for becoming weak, biased, arrogant, and hysterical. I hope that you will learn from the experience, but everything I have seen, heard and read since November 2016 tells me that you will only get worse—more angry, more resistant to non-conforming views, more doctrinaire and totalitarian in your attitudes. You had the intellect to behave otherwise, but lacked the integrity and courage to resist  peer pressure and groupthink. I have no sympathy for you.

2. This is a scam. My wife got an email offer from CVS for a “free gift” if she would fill out a questionnaire. When she prepared to submit it, she discovered that the “shipping fee” for the “gift” would be eight bucks, and would require her to send in all manner of personal information.  She deleted the whole thing having wasted 15 minutes she will want back on her deathbed. Our choices are to encourage the government to regulate this abuse of free speech, to find a way to punish the companies who engage in it, or to ignore these devices in sufficiently large numbers that they try something else less obnoxious, or more effective. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Girl Scout Cookie Cheats?

Just yesterday I bought my yearly two boxes of Thin Mints from some incredibly adorable little girls selling the Girl Scout cookies from a card table outside my local CVS. I had planned on buying them from a Girl Scout I have never met, though the agency of her mother, who sold them to me last year. But she never got in touch with me—I think she’s another one who is steamed at me for some post here (over at Windypundit, it’s slam Jack Marshall day by another former commenter) —so the adorable little girls got my 20 bucks this year.

Today I encounter an interesting opinion piece that holds that mothers like my friend are “cheaters.” JM Finster writes:

As with any fund-drive, the idea is to support the cause, but with the cookies, uniquely, customers buy them to give “the awesome girls who sell them,” in the words of the Girl Scouts, “the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within.” Research has shown that none of that happens when parents sell the cookies at work..So it is that the cookies land on a desk in a skyscraper without a Girl Scout in sight.

The cookie drive should be better than that. Selling is crucial to every endeavor, in that it requires the ability to make a convincing presentation, to answer questions, and to project self-assurance. Everyone needs to do that, in one form or another, but that last attribute, in particular, is sometimes lacking in the best of us, especially shy young ladies.

Since Girl Scout troops keep track of sales by individuals, even offering prizes for the best results, parent-cheaters can hardly resist the chance to prove their own sales skills and boost their girl to the top of the ranking. …If a Scout comes over to the house for a sales call, a parent will undoubtedly come along as an escort. That’s all right, except that the parent will do all the talking, no matter how hard one tries to give the awesome girl standing off to the side the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within. With the adult recording the sale and later delivering the cookies, their daughter the Girl Scout—all in one stroke!—wins a prize for outstanding sales and loses the chance to learn something about sales…For the sake of the runny-nosed little girl, who keeps poor sales records, lets her boxes get crushed in the back of the car, and exhibits more enthusiasm than smooth-talk, kindly sidestep the parent-cheaters and let her learn. In fact, make her learn and insist she does the talking. 

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to kick off March:

Are parents who help Girl Scouts sell more cookies cheating?

Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Snack, 1/17/2020: Dirty Money, Dirty Baseball, And “Parasite”

Yum or Yecchh?

1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”

Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.

In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be  severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”

This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading

In Case Someone, Like The Mainstream News Media, Is Claiming That The Justice Department Just Cleared Hillary Clinton Of Wrongdoing, Don’t Believe Them

Hillary Clinton was engaged in a long and lucrative influence peddling scam known as the Clinton Foundation.  It was a a brilliant, technically legal way to fund the family’s international travel, perks, and opportunity to set up lucrative deals for the family while pursuing other interests, but its was as corrupt as Rasputin’s beard was long.

The proof is in the chart above, unless you have been hit over the head with a skillet. Why would the Foundation’s donations dry up once the two senior Clintons were out of power and without prospects of regaining a measure of it?  Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.  Donations reached $134 million in 2010, right after Hillary became secretary of state, and stayed in that range through 2016. When she lost the election, support crashed, going from $217 million in 2016 to $26 million in 2017. The foundation fired 22 staffers and shuttered the Clinton Global Initiative.

There’s no mystery about what the Clintons were pulling. I teach a course every year on foundation ethics, and often discussed what a general counsel’s duties were once one discovered that their charity or non-profit was using the  non-profit tax laws this way. Nobody can argue it isn’t clever, though its not really unique: a lot of non-profits use the illusion of good works—just enough to meet legal requirements—to essentially launder funds. In this case, the foundation let foreign nations and others bribe the Clintons while getting a tax deduction. Sweet!

The Washington Post described the Justice Department investigation of the foundation as an effort to “mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton” about “vague corruption allegations.” Fake news. There’s been nothing vague about the accusations. I wrote about the foundation’s corruption many times, like here, in 2015, and here, in 2016, or here. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Authors Stephen King And Don Winslow

Winslow, King, and their extortion target

Wow. Talk about having defective ethics alarms.

Bestselling novelists Stephen King and Don Winslow (he’s a best-selling detective novelist; I assume you know who King is) have offered to donate $200,000 to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital if  White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham will finally hold a press conference, something the Administration stopped having ten months ago.

I assume you can quickly assess what is wrong with this, even though these successful, wealthy, adult men cannot:

  • They seem to think their wealth entitles and empowers them to manipulate the President of the United States,

   What hubris. What arrogance.

  • The two writers are using sick children as their hostages to try to bend the White House to their will.

Nice. Continue reading

Sunday Before Christmas Ethics Ornaments, 12/22/19: Googling Ethics, “Cats,” Goldman Sachs, De Niro, Trump Derangement

Here’s hoping that the the next three days rescue the Spirit of Christmas…

…because the last few weeks have been a downer, man.

1. Googling ethics:  Phillip Galanes, at Social Q’s was consulted by a woman who had bad vibes about her girlfriend’s new love, so she googled him, and found out, as she suspected, that he had some serious red flags in his past. She told her friend, who had discovered the bad news herself, but who was hurt and angry that the inquirer did a background check on her boyfriend. “Was I wrong?” she asked. In his answer, Gallanes implies that she was, although “everybody does it.” I’d like a nice, succinct, substantive explanation of by what ethical theory it can ever be wrong to access publicly available information about anyone. This isn’t an issue of privacy, because the information isn’t private. There was nothing wrong with the inquirer’s motives, because she was concerned about her friend.

I’d call this the Ick Factor at work. It seems unethical because the fact that anyone can check our lives out online is creepy. The research itself, however, is ethically neutral. The ethics comes in with how the information is used.

2. I guess I have to mention “Cats”…since it is getting the most spectacular negative and cruel reviews since “Showgirls,” and maybe before that. “Exorcist II, The Heretic” perhaps. Oddly, the usually hyper-critical New York Times is not one of the worst defilers, but here was what the reviewer really found objectionable :

“It’s too bad that no one seems to have thought through the semiotics of Victoria’s chalky white cat face, given that Hayward is of mixed race and that the heavy is Idris Elba’s predatory Macavity. Elba seems to be having a fine time, but come on!”

Ah! The old “mixed-race actress in whiteface being menaced by a black actor playing a cat” racist imagery!

I can’t wait for them to write down these rules. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/08/2019: Bulletin! The New York Times Reports Pro-Trump News Straight!

You wouldn’t believe what I am dealing with right now, so I’m not even going to tell you.

Let’s just say that in this case, writing ethics stories is a welcome respite..

1. Let’s give credit to the New York Times. On its front page Saturday, the Times highlighted three large graphs, one showing that “monthly job gains under President Trump have shown strong, consistent increases “even after a decade of economic expansion”; one showing that wage growth has “picked up momentum,” and the other showing that unemployment has dipped below “full employment.”

All of this, plus a record high stock market, are just as candidate Trump promised and predicted.

The Times then says,

“With 11 months to go before the 2020 election, a polarized electorate is dividing itself by which story line it views as more pertinent — the president’s potential abuse of power, or the comfort of a steady paycheck credited to his leadership.”

Gee, let’s see…. “potential abuse of power” that was not an abuse of power at all, or jobs, higher wages, and rock bottom low unemployment. Tough choice. What a dilemma.

Give the Times credit for making it ridiculously clear what a big lie Big Lie #5 (“Everything is Terrible!”) is.

2. But let’s not get carried away! Here’s another Times headline from the same edition: Continue reading