A Really Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/15/2020, In Which I Have A Revealing Exchange With A Woke Sports Journalist

How the day got hopelessly loused up:

  • At 8:30 am, I took my car to the dealer for a 5000 mile servicing. I had asked if I could get a loaner, and was told I could. But I’d have my car back in an hour, I was told, so I passed.
  • Then I found all the doors at the place locked until 9 am. I decided to walk several blocks to get a fast breakfast, but Popeye’s doesn’t have breakfast, and MacDonald’s doesn’t allow you to use the tables. This was a huge McDonald’s: 20 people could eat there and not be closer than ten feet. But Virginia, in the throes of Blue Madness, is catering to hysterics. I ate my sausage biscuit and hash browns and drank my coffee sitting on a curb, like a vagrant.
  • When I returned, I could get into the showroom to sit, but my glasses kept fogging up with the %$#@%!! mask, so I kept going in and out.  My car wasn’t ready at 9:30. It wasn’t ready at 10, or 10:30. They had me, as Beldar Conehead memorably said, “by the base of my snarglies.”
  • I also couldn’t complain, because they had assigned the servicing to my son, who works there.
  • I got home at 11:46 am, the morning effectively shot to hell.

1. The fascinating memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower will be dedicated this week:

Ike was one of my father’s heroes, and the first President I can remember. On a popular Boston kids’ show called “The Big Brother Show,” the host, Bob Emory, would call upon us to get a glass of milk and toast a photo of President Eisenhower as “Hail to the Chief” played. Because, you know, you were supposed to respect the Office of the President.  The New York Times couldn’t even write about a memorial to a Fifties era POTUS without making veiled insults to President Trump:

He was a leader who sought to work across lines toward a common purpose, driven by duty and pragmatism rather than ideology and divisiveness. He steered his Republican Party away from isolationism toward a bipartisan internationalism that prevailed until recent years. He sent troops into the South not to crack down on demonstrations for racial justice but to enforce the desegregation of schools. He ended the Korean War and balanced the budget, presiding over nearly eight years of peace and prosperity. And he pushed through an infrastructure bill that built the interstate highway system.

He also presided over a remarkably homogeneous society, was opposed by a Democratic Party with many selfless statesmen that was barely distinguishable from the GOP (Ike could have been the nominee of either party), and he still was covered by a news media that mostly held to traditional journalism standards.

Ike would have been called a racist and a fascist in 2020. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “’Psst! Fox Sports! Skip Bayless Is Right. Winston Churchill Says So…’”

I love it when first time commenters break in with a Comment of the Day, and this is the case with Brad Kent Prothero. Brad offers a different perspective on the Dak Prescott/Skip Bayless controversy discussed in the post, “Psst! Fox Sports! Skip Bayless Is Right. Winston Churchill Says So….”

Here is his Comment of the Day:

If Dak Prescott was talking about how he feels on the field, I would fully agree with Skip and you. However, he was talking about something much bigger than football. Dealing with the COVID situation is drastically different from anything experienced on the football field.

He has spent many years preparing, learning, thinking, and playing football. He has experience that he can call up to help him during a game. The preparation they do before a game is extensive and they are ready for most situations however unlikely.

Compare that to how much time most people were prepared for the ramifications of COVID, let alone an elite sports figure leading one of the most popular NFL teams. No one was prepared for how the shut-down would effect society or the well being of each of us. Continue reading

“Psst! Fox Sports! Skip Bayless Is Right. Winston Churchill Says So…”

Fox Sports is trying to show its compassionate and sensitive side by criticizing its own pundit, Skip Bayless, for saying that  Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott should not not have spoken publicly  about his battle with depression.

During a television interview, Prescott said that the  pandemic and the suicide of one of his brothers sent him into a bout of clinical depression to the extent that he couldn’t leave his house, and he sought help  from family and the Cowboys. Bayless said on his show,“Undisputed,”  “I don’t have sympathy for him going public with, ‘I got depressed’ and ‘I suffered depression early in COVID to the point that I couldn’t even go work out.’ Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s team.” His co-host Shannon Sharpe objected, and soon Bayless’s employer weighed in, saying in a statement,

“We do not agree with Skip Bayless’ opinion on Undisputed this morning. We have addressed the significance of this matter with Skip and how his insensitive comments were received by people internally at Fox Sports and our audience,”

Well… Continue reading

Luncheon Ethics Laniapppe, 9/9/20: Track! Movie Fraud! Mainstream Media…Well, You Know.

1 And speaking of movies…I just finished watching the latest from cult director Charlie Kaufman, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” I won’t spoil it or recommend you don’t see it, except to say that it is one of those films that you leave not knowing what you just watched, and resolving either to watch it again (nope!) or decide you wasted your time. It’s a demented cross between “My Dinner with Andre,” “Back To the Future” and “The Exorcist Part II” that would have made a decent Twilight Zone episode at 30 minutes. I tried to puzzle the thing out while and  after I watched it, which seemed fair: how many movies end with a complete rendition of Jud’s gloomy solo “Lonely Room” from “Oklahoma” and a dream ballet, after over 40 minutes of conversations in a car while driving through a snowstorm? At least the film was original, challenging, and bold…or so I thought.

Then I read an article about one of the actors (all the performances are excellent) who said he asked Kaufman, the writer and director, what the film was about, and the answer he got was “I don’t know.” Whaaaaat?

That’s fraud on the audience, a cheat, and unethical. Be obscure, be mysterious, be oblique or vague, but at least have a point when the presumption of any audience member is that every movie means something. This is like James Joyce revealing, after scholars have written books and treatises and had symposia arguing what “Finnegan’s Wake” was about, that he just threw down random words on paper and that the book really didn’t mean anything.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (1) Headline of the Day:  From the New York Times front page: “Scaring voters didn’t work in 2018. Will it now?” I’d say that in 2020, it is the violent and intimidating conduct of the Left, such as Black Lives Matter and the antifa, the Democratic governors and mayors refusing to protect their communities and maintain order, and the fact that the mainstream media now so blatantly attempts to cover for all of it that is “scaring voters,” or should. How is there any valid comparison with 2018?

This is the false innuendo version of fake news. The headline implies that Republicans are exaggerating the breakdown of civic order that has been rationalized and excused by Democrats. Continue reading

Labor Day Ethics Break, 9/7/2020: Ironically, Somebody Needs To be Fired In All Of These Stories….

1. “Boy, he’s strict!”* Novak Djokovic, the top seeded player, defaulted from the United States Open after the ball he hit toward the back of the court in frustration hit a line judge in the neck. This violated the Grand Slam rule book’s  “physical abuse” provision, which states that players “shall not at any time physically abuse any official, opponent, spectator or other person within the precincts of the tournament site.” The  fine for this is to $20,000 for each violation of this rule, with the possibility of even more if it is deemed a “major offense.” In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said: “In accordance with the Grand Slam rule book, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the U.S. Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 U.S. Open. Because he was defaulted, Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the U.S. Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”

As I read it, if the ball bounced back and missed the line judge, the rule wouldn’t apply. If it did hit the judge, even though the result was unintentional, then the player gets the full penalty. What a moronic rule! I guess they’ve never heard of moral luck in the tennis world. Either it should be a serious offense to slam the ball anywhere on the court in anger whether someone is hurt or not, or it should be a violation to intentionally harm and official. The rules is incompetent and unethical.

Naturally, none of the stories about the episode point this out.

2. Oh no! Not this again! Seventh grader Isaiah Elliott of the Grand Mountain School in t just south of Colorado Springs. Colorado, was attending on online art class when a teacher saw Isaiah’s  toy gun a neon green and black plastic “weapon” with an orange tip with the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side. The teacher, an idiot, hysteric and bully,  notified the school principal, and Isaiah was suspended for five days. The school also called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check on the boy without calling his parents first. Here’s the toy:

This is even more idiotic than this story, which was discussed here in June, about the kid whose teacher called the cops on him because she saw his BB gun.

The teacher should be fired and the principal should be fired. Isiah’s parents appear to be raising  hell. Good.  They would be terrible and irresponsible parents if they didn’t. There is an ethical  duty to confront this creeping state child abuse and indoctrination. Continue reading

Day’s End Ethics,9/3/2020: Three Terrible People, And The NFL

This is really getting up late; I spent all day writing legal ethics song parodies, including a new version of the “American Pie” parody I posted earlier. I was going to discuss the answers to that one, but I am so sick of “American Pie” right now I could spit.

Did you know that there was different end of the last verse? It comes in after “And the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” It went,

And there I stood alone and afraid
I dropped to my knees and there I prayed
And I promised him everything I could give
If only he would make the music live
And he promised it would live once more
But this time one would equal four
And in five years four had come to mourn
And the music was reborn…

The Day the Music Died.

1 . Here’s someone to add to your venal scum list: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has a “tell-all” book coming out exploiting her time as a trusted friend of Melania Trump. All of these wretched people—Omarosa, John Bolton, Mary Trump, “Anonymous,” the rest of them—are the same. They betray trust for money, like Judas, or Robert Hansson. By any ethical standard, such books should be written, if at all, after the individuals who trusted the authors are dead or at least out of the public eye. That rule is the same whether the scum is cashing in on being trusted by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama or Donald Trump.

And yes, those who reward such low-lifes by buying their books are endorsing, rewarding and encouraging unethical conduct.

2. Wait, why isn’t this guy “cancelled?” From the Times:

The rapper and internet troll 6ix9ine, one of the most polarizing figures in popular culture today, is by turns grating, defiant, relentless, hostile and savvy, a self-proclaimed car crash, a rat and an admitted domestic abuser. At 24, he is also inarguably compelling to many, having landed two Top 5 hits — including “Trollz” with Nicki Minaj, his first No. 1 — and racked up more than one billion new YouTube views in less than four months, since his early release from federal prison this spring.

… In February of last year, he pleaded guilty to firearms and racketeering charges stemming from his role in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, a violent, drug-trafficking Brooklyn gang, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, delivering what the judge in the case called “game-changing” testimony against his former associates… he was sentenced to two years, including the 13 months he’d already served — but it also put his life and rap career in jeopardy…

6ix9ine, a rainbow-haired, suggestively tattooed attention addict, was already controversial — an endless source of Instagram beefs that often devolved into real-world violence, and a convicted sex criminal, having pleaded guilty as a teenager to the use of a child in a sexual performance. Then he repeatedly doubled down on his villain status. His new album is called “TattleTales,” out Friday via the independent distributor Create Music Group,

3. I have an impolitic question to ask after you’ve digested this… Continue reading

Seeing Ethics In September, 9/1/2020…

1. Well, THAT’s an easy question! At St Xavier Catholic Church in NYC over the weekend, the priest asked his flock, : “Do you affirm that white privilege is unfair…will you commit to helping transform our church culture” and embrace “racial justice.”?

The answer, of course, is “‘Bye!” No one should accept partisan and racist talking points from the clergy. This is an abuse of power, trust and position.

I think I’ll watch “Spotlight” again…

2. In case you were wondering, Ethics Alarms will have nothing definitive to say about the Kyle Rittenhouse saga, and won’t until I read a trustworthy account of what really happened. There seems no question that the original mainstream news media narrative that this was a white supremacist gun nut hunting peaceful protesters is the MSM misbehaving again. The backlash characterization of Ritterhouse as a brave citizen protecting local businesses from rioters also seems overly convenient. The video available suggests an element of self-defense, but it seems clear to me that the kid irresponsibly placed himself in a perilous position while provoking members of a less-than-rational mob. In the situation he voluntarily placed himself, Ritterhouse was likely to be killed or kill somebody. He was also violating the law by carrying his weapon when he was underage. Of course, the failure of the Kenosha police and the state to keep minimally endurable order also added to the deadly conditions.

3. Hey, Coup Plan E, good to see you! Where have you been?

The 25th Amendment arguments have  been relatively scarce lately, although Maxine Waters mentioned it a week ago without referencing any disability. She appears to think that the Cabinet can just remove the elected President with a vote. My God, she’s such an idiot.

If the President had three strokes, he sure recovered quickly. And doesn’t it take astounding gall to try this chestnut again now, when the Democrats are running a candidate who could be legitimately removed by the 25th Amendment ten minutes after he took the oath of office? Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Wind-Up, 8/29/2020: Bias Makes You Stupid, Stupid Makes You Incompetent, Incompetence Makes You NBA Commissioner, And My New Dog Makes Me Happy…

“Good eeevening!”

Many TV series from the black and white era seem hopelessly dated today, almost unwatchable. The Westerns hold up well: “Gunsmoke” is still excellent. “The Rifleman” is smart, ethical, and terrific. Of the dramas, “Perry Mason” and “Peter Gunn” among others still work. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show” at their best, which was often, are brilliant. “The Twilight Zone” is probably the most acclaimed show from that period, and I love many of the episodes, but the duds, and there were quite a few, seem even duddier today. To be honest, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” which ran from 1955 to 1965, may hold up the best of all.

I thought about the show this week, after the story came out about the woman who was delivered to the funeral home and about to be embalmed when they found out she was alive. Now THAT’s incompetence! But it also echoed a famous  “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode, in which Joseph Cotton played a man  involved in a bad traffic accident that leaves him so paralyzed–eyes open, mouth in a rictus of horror, as Stephen King likes to say—that when help arrives they think he’s really dead.  Cotton narrates his plight in real time, as we hear the desperate man’s thoughts. He tries to signal using his little finger, the only part that works, and the medics move him so he’s on top of his hand. They are zipping up the body bag when…well, you should see the episode.

Another classic is when a young Steve McQueen plays a compulsive gambler whose car breaks down in front of crazy Peter Lorre’s home. Lorre bets Steve he can’t light his lighter ten times in a row. If he can, Steve gets Lorre’s car. If the lighter fails before flame ten, Steve loses a finger. Lorre stands over McQueen’s tied down left hand holding a hatchet. You could not possibly guess the ending. 

1. “Well,” as Elaine would say to George on “Seinfeld,” “That’s because you’re an idiot.” In an interview with Mediaite, Don Lemon said that CNN is not biased. The CNN anchor said in part,

I don’t really understand how people will say CNN is biased and focuses on the negative of Trump.How is being factual, bias? How is taking evidence and someone’s own words and their own actions, and their own policies, and just presenting it back to the public on television or whatever medium, whatever journalistic medium you happen to be in, how is that bias? …

As head-exploding as that statement is, it is only remarkable in that it is such a guileless indication that someone prominent in a profession where objectivity is essential literally doesn’t know what bias is, and is incapable of recognizing it.

Bias makes you stupid, but it is also true that being stupid—and Lemon is a very stupid man—makes it easier to be biased. Continue reading

I’ll Try To Stop This From Being A Rant, But I’m Not Promising Anything…[Corrected]

When The Great Stupid starts affecting my enjoyment of baseball, it’s personal.

I’m not watching another baseball game this “season,” and whether I ever do again is up for grabs. Someone in Major League Baseball’s marketing department should take notice, because when the game loses people like me—that is, lifetime, sophisticated, passionate fans, it’s in trouble.  For almost 15 years, I never missed a single Boston Red Sox game.  I’ve watched games in 13 different parks and stadiums; I shared a season ticket to the Baltimore Orioles for several years. I managed hundreds of Strat-O-Matic table top baseball games; along with two friends, I created and marketed a Red Sox trivia game in 1986. In 1978, I risked my job at Georgetown by walking out of a mandated staff meeting because the Red Sox-Yankee single game play-off was about to start, and  I wasn’t about to miss it.

I just gave a Smithsonian Associates program on baseball. Most of all, much of my personal philosophy was built on baseball observations and experiences. Fenway Park is the single place on earth where I am entirely happy, and I choke up every time Robert Redford gives his “God, I love baseball” speech in “The Natural.”

This week, however, baseball players refused to play their games in solidarity with an obnoxious NBA protest. I take it as a personal insult, and the fact that MLB took no action against the players as signature significance. These people are not merely unethical fools, but unethical fools who are smug and arrogant about it.

I will not waste my valuable time and fragile emotions rooting for such people. I have more self-respect than that.

This week’s madness..CUE!!!!

…began with the NBA’s players spontaneously deciding to boycott their games. Again, the supine league decided to let them do it, making vague virtue-signalling noises about how they support the players’ activism in pursuit of “social justice.” Well, let me refine that: it really began when the evil NFL, which happily makes billions encouraging players to destroy their brains, decided at the outset of the George Floyd Freakout to not only allow widespread Kaepernicking, but to encourage it. Next we had pro baseball and basketball  trying to top each other in betraying their obligations to fans of their teams and sport by endorsing not just political messages embraced by players and exhibited in the stadiums, but offensive or infuriatingly meaningless ones. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/28/2020: A Bad Couple Of Months For Museums And Sexual Predators

Good morning!

1. Related to absolutely nothing anyone is currently thinking about...I was re-watching “Spotlight” to remind myself that the news media sometimes does its job, and again was reminded how Hollywood constantly makes Americans more ignorant by its sheer arrogance and laziness. The film, which reasonably accurately recounts how the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team broke the story of the extensive Catholic Church cover-up of pedophile priests, a scandal still unfolding now, 20 years later, has a scene in which a lawyer who represents the victims of such priests tells a reporter that he’s effective because he’s an “outsider.” “I’m Armenian,” he says. “How many Armenians do you know in Boston?” Having been brought up in Boston, I know that the answer to this question is “A LOT.” Boston was a center of Armenian immigration at the turn of the 20th Century, and its Armenian community, in the city and especially the suburbs, is huge and influential. There are many Armenian organizations as well. In Arlington, Mass., where my family lived, Armenian-Americans were prominent in business and government. The little side street where we lived, Brunswick Road, had ten families living on it: the Marshalls, the Gares, and the Moreland,  the Zeffs (who were Jewish, then two Sakoians, the Nazarians, the Catherians, the Berbarians, and the Masmanians. Just Googling “Boston Armenian conmmunity” would have let the film-makers know the scene was nonsense, and they couldn’t be bothered.

2. And speaking of  sexual predators…the cover-up of sexual predators in the coaching ranks for Olympic sports is being exposed slowly but surely.  Last month a lawsuit was filed against Richard Callaghan, an elite American figure skating coach best known for coaching Tara Lipinski to an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and coaching Todd Eldredge to a world title and six national championships. The suit alleges ongoing sexual abuse of one skater that endured over two decades. Callaghan’s victims were male, not female, but the story is familiar: parents guilelessly entrust their talented athletic children to mentor/coaches in swimming, skating, and gymnastics, without considering for a moment what attracts many of these people to working with children and teens.

Another sport that is coming to terms with a sexual predator is equestrian competition.  George Morris, an Olympics equestrian coach known as  a “kingmaker” for his success with riders,  was barred for life from the sport by the United States Equestrian Federation  based on an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct He is now facing lawsuits filed this month by two people claiming that he raped them as teenagers. Jimmy Williams, another  riding coach who guided many Olympians and  was also named in a lawsuit by a woman who said Williams had sexually assaulted her from the ages of 12 to 17.  Though Williams died in 1993, he was recorded as barred for life from the federation in 2018—yes, a dead man was banned for life— after an investigation by The New York Times revealed accusations by nearly a dozen women, including the Olympian Anne Kursinski, that he had preyed upon them as girls.

Parents are so desperate to live vicariously through their offspring that they willingly hand their kids over to the care of predators. I’m sorry to say this, but absent thorough, thorough investigation, it is irresponsible to trust these coaches. The history and what we know of human nature presents too much of a risk.

The same applies to allowing children to work in professional theater, TV, and movies. Continue reading