Elon Musk Is Not A Nice Guy, And A Legal Ethics Controversy Proves It

The legal ethics world is all in a fluster over a recent controversy involving Elon Musk, the world’s richest man. This means that readers at Ethics Alarms should be flustering too.

This is the story: An SEC  attorney had interviewed  Musk during the agency’s investigation of the Tesla CEO’s 2018 tweet claiming to have secured funding to potentially take the electric-vehicle maker private. The claim proved to be false, resulting in a settlement that required Musk to resign and also to pay 20 million dollars in fines. In 2019, Musk’s personal lawyer called the managing partner at Cooley, LLP, and demanded that the firm fire the SEC lawyer, who had left the agency to become as associate at the large firm that handles Tesla’s business. The targeted lawyer had no connection to Tesla’s legal work at the firm; the sole reason for the demand was revenge. Musk wanted him to lose his job because he was angry about their interaction at the SEC. Continue reading

P.M. Ethics Dispatches, 1/11/2022

We have to keep baseball ethics alive even if baseball itself is in a state of suspension: the owner and players are, for the first time in decades, arguing about how to divide up their billions, everything from roster size to minimum salaries are on the table, and as of now, the two sides aren’t even talking with the season just a couple of months away. One of the issues to be settled is whether the National League will finally capitulate and adopt the designated hitter rule, which was accepted in the American League on this date in 1973, a day which many traditionalist fans then and now regard as an unforgivable scar on the integrity of the game. Baseball has always been celebrated for its equity and balance: as it was envisioned, every player on the field had to both hit and play defense. The DH, which is a batter who never uses a glove, also allowed the pitcher to be a defense-only specialist, never picking up a bat which, advocates of the new rule argued, was a result much to be wished, since the vast majority of hurlers are only slightly better at hitting the ball than your fat old uncle Curt who played semi-pro ball in his twenties. All these decades years later, the National League and its fans have stubbornly maintained that the DH was a vile, utilitarian gimmick spurred by non-ethical considerations, mainly greed. When the rule was adopted, American League attendance lagged behind the NL, which also was winning most of the All Star games, in part because that league had embraced black stars far more rapidly than “the junior league.” The DH, the theory went, would make games more exciting, with more offense, while eliminating all the .168 batters in the ninth spot in every line-up.

I had a letter published in Sports Illustrated in 1973 explaining why I opposed the DH as a Boston Red Sox fan. Since then, I have grudgingly come to accept the benefits of the rule: it gave the Sox David Ortiz, allowed Carl Yastrzemski to play a few more years, and let American League fans see such all-time greats as Hank Aaron at the plate after they could no longer play the field. It was a breach of the game’s integrity, but it worked.

1. At least that’s fixed. The Supreme Court issued a corrected transcript of the oral arguments in the Biden vaccine mandate case, and it now accurately records Justice Gorsuch as saying he believes the seasonal flu kills “hundreds…thousands of people every year.” The original version wrongly quoted him as saying hundreds of thousands, which allowed those desperately trying to defend the outrageously wrong assertions by Justice Sotomayor regarding the Wuhan virus to point to Gorsuch and claim, “See? Conservatives are just as bad!” Prime among these was the steadily deteriorating Elie Mystal at “The Nation,” who, typically for him, refused to accept the correction. Sotomayor is one of the all-time worst Supreme Court justices, though she will be valuable as a constant reminder of the perils of affirmative action. Her jurisprudence makes the much maligned Clarence Thomas look like Louis Brandeis by comparison. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Washington Post Sportswriter Sally Jenkins

Here is all you really need to know. Tampa Bay Bucs star Antonio Brown refused to enter the game when so ordered during the third quarter of Sunday’s NFL game between the Bucs and New York Jets. Brown then stripped off his equipment and shirt before leaving the field. Jenkins says that the Bucs were cruel and unfair to fire him after the game, which is what they did. (Sort of.)

She writes in part,

For all of the NFL’s well-intentioned efforts on mental health, the Buccaneers have betrayed just how much of an archaic, body-commodifying, ranchers-and-cattle mentality can persist where decent human feeling should be. Was Brown not an asset and a “model citizen” for many months, as Arians said? Did he not help them win the Super Bowl last season? He caught 10 passes for his playoff-bound team just a week ago. Who on the Bucs didn’t know Brown had a tangled personality, demons stemming from indigence as a kid, that he had a pile of legal issues, trouble conforming and a penchant for self-sabotage?

It’s easy to be sympathetic to Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka or Michael Phelps for their mental health issues. Their struggles were largely invisible, their confessions soft-spoken. Not so much with Brown. In his case, he lives his crazy and his pain right out loud, in front of the cameras and social media, and it’s unnerving, unlikeable and in some instances perhaps inexcusable, from alleged sexual misconduct to refusing to pay debtors to faking a vaccine card. But the remarks of his teammates make it clear that they have deep affection for his best side and view much of his behavior as stemming from emotional unwellness….

It’s hard to think of another field in which so valuable an employee is so summarily cut loose when deemed broken or noncompliant. …Brown works harder than any man in the league to be uncoverable…His body fat is 3 percent. You don’t work that way because you don’t want to play to win or because you want to be an unreliable teammate. In no other profession do employers demand such devotion and repay it with so little loyalty and deem people so disposable.

I wish I could say it’s rare to see a sports columns so flamingly wrong in so many ways, but that’s not true, unfortunately. But wow: Jenkins is in ethics dunce Hall of Fame territory…

Continue reading

Observations On The Latest Don Lemon New Years Eve Drunk Act

Once again, CNN’s Don Lemon indulged his inner high school jerk by getting drunk during New Years Eve festivities. As he has before, Lemon still went before the cameras smashed as a CNN special rang in 2022. This time, however, he had more to say than just singing “Melancholy Baby” or whatever it is drunks sing now.

As CNN hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper were reporting on the action in Times Square, Lemon was in New Orleans with fellow CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota and comedian Dulce Sloan, Lemon, his tongue loosened by liquor so much that it nearly fell onto the floor, decided to get some things off his chest. Beginning by denying that he was pickled and claiming it was an “act” (Riiiight: see above screenshot] Lemon ranted,

“I don’t give a — what you think about me, what do you think about that,” he said. “I don’t care, I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t care what you think about me, I don’t lie. I am who I am. I am a grown, successful black man who a lot of people hate because they’re not used to seeing me and people like me in the position I am to be able to share my point of view on television and it freaks people out and you know what? You can kiss my behind, I do not care. I don’t care. … I have one life. It is who I am, and I feel very … blessed and honored to be in this position, to be able to do this, for all of the hate I get, it’s motivation to me. Bring it. I don’t care.”

Naturally, the video has “gone viral.”

Observations: Continue reading

From The “Bias Makes You Stupid Files”: The “Work Friend” Misses The Point

Roxanne Gay is an impressive character. She’s a prolific writer of prose and fiction (including science fiction and comic books), a visiting professor at Yale as well as a professional feminist and LGBTQ advocate. She also contributes opinion essays to the New York Times, and as if she isn’t busy enough, is one of their advice columnists, writing the “Work Friend” Sunday column, which is almost always astute and wise in its advice regarding workplace politics and ethical dilemmas.

Not in this case, however. A female inquirer took offense when two male colleagues offered her unsolicited advice about improving her Zooming technique. She framed them as sexist attacks on a woman’s “appearance,” and Gay took the bait. Continue reading

Ethics Workout, “Get In Ethics Shape For 2022 Edition,” 12/27/21: No Pain, No Gain!

1. On second thought, who needs work? The United States has been a nation that embraced work as a value and a mark of character as no other. Naturally, this core value has been under assault from the Left as part of its cultural overhaul strategy. The pandemic created an opining that has been brilliantly exploited politically, leading to a large part of the work force now unwilling to work. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the biggest bloc of liberal lawmakers in Congress, has endorsed a bill proposed by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., which would seek to implement a four-day workweek. Americans work far more than people in most other affluent countries, and we also produce more without using, as some countries do that I might mention, slave labor. But the work ethic is weakening.

The anti-work ethic is the goal on one of Reddit’s fastest growing sites — r/antiwork. The subreddit is “for those who want to end work, are curious about ending work, [and] want to get the most out of a work-free life.” It is up to 1.4 million members, ranking among the top subscribed-to subreddits.

Members discuss tactics workers can use to slack off, cheat, sabotage, and steal from their employers. You would learn there, for example, that April 15th is “Steal Something From Work Day.” [Pointer and source: Linking and Thinking on Education]

2. Observations on the Gallup Poll on public approval of Federal leaders (You can find the poll here).

  • Yes, I know, polls. But Gallup is straighter than most, and while the specific numbers should be ignored, the relative values are interesting.
  • The big finding, and what has been attracting all the headlines, is that Chief Justice John Roberts is way ahead of anyone else on the list, with a bipartisan 60-40 favorability split. This undercuts the pro-abortion strategy of warning that the Supreme Court can’t afford to make its decision on Roe v. Wade cases without considering the potential harm to the Court’s legitimacy. The Court seems to have the most trust of any of the branches, which means that it can (and should) be courageous if legal principles require.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is second. How many Americans know who he is or what he does? 20%? Less? What is it they approve of?
  • Dr. Fauci is third at 52% approval, which shows you can fool a lot of the people all of the time.
  • Mitch McConnell is dead last, even behind Nancy Pelosi. Good.

Continue reading

In Which I Fail My Duty To Fight Civility Rot…

broken-window

Ah, another day, another ethics challenge at the 7-11! If it isn’t CVS, it’s another local establishment. As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say,

For the third straight night, some jerk had parked his car in the church parking lot overlooking our cul-de-sac, sitting with his headlights on so they came right in our living room window and driving my wife to distraction. And also for the third straight night, I put my lovey but pit-bully dog Spuds on his leash to confront the driver, and asked him why the hell he was sitting in his car shining lights in my window. They always say the same thing: “I’m sorry, I had no idea!” Why don’t they have any idea? See those houses literally right in front of you? See where the light beams go?

What’s the matter with these people?

Immediately thereafter, I ran an errand for my already annoyed wife that required me to go to our local 7-11. The clerk, whom I don’t think I’ve ever seen before but he was wearing a %&4#@! mask so I can’t be certain, handled my transaction while having a conversation on his cell phone, never looking at me. This has never happened to me before. In fact, more than once I have admonished customers ahead of me in line in various stores for not having the common courtesy and respect to get off their cell phones or bluetooths and treat clerks like human beings rather than robots. I’ve done it at that 7-11, in fact.

Continue reading

Saturday Night Fevered Ethics, 12/4/2021: It Begins With A Hairless Cat…[Updated]

1. Where “Ick” and unethical become indistinguishable...Airlines have enough problems without having to deal with…this. A message was sent through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) alerting a Delta crew in Atlanta that a passenger in seat 13A was “breastfeeding a cat and will not put cat back in its carrier when [flight attendant] requested.” And she was. Every time the passenger was asked to cease and desist, she attached the cat, which was of the hairless variety, not that it’s relevant, to her nipple again. A flight attendant on board during the incident, wrote on social media,

“This woman had one of those, like, hairless cats swaddled up in a blanket so it looked like a baby,” she said. “Her shirt was up and she was trying to get the cat to latch and she wouldn’t put the cat back in the carrier. And the cat was screaming for its life.”

2. A you have probably heard by now, CNN canned Chris Cuomo. This is a classic example of doing the right thing for the wrong reason: Cuomo should have been fired because he’s a terrible, unethical, none-too-bright journalist. The fact that he also mishandled a conflict of interest, abused his sources and used his position with CNN to assist his brother as The Luv Guv tried to avoid accountability for sexual misconduct all flowed from CC’s incompetence and ethical dunderheadedness. A serious scandal of some kind involving “Fredo” was inevitable.

Continue reading

Ethics And Those Wacky Cuomo Boys, 2: Andrew And His Book

Chris’s scandal may be more embarrassing, but Andrew’s latest problem may be more expensive.

In July 2020, then-New York Governor Cuomo, riding high in the public eye, asked the state ethics panel for permission to write a book about his leadership during the pandemic.

I must interject here that such books are virtually always unethical, often in multiple ways. I say “virtually” because there really may be some instance, buried deeply in the sands of time, when a book written while a popular elected official (or a First Lady) was in office and published with that official’s name as the author was really written by the official in his or her spare time, wasn’t just a government-funded campaign and propaganda tool, and also didn’t provide a way for supporters both individual and corporate to launder contributions. Maybe, but I doubt it.

For one thing, if an elected official spends any time at all writing a book during his or her work day, he or she is getting paid by taxpayers to do work that primarily benefits the official. Books are hard. Books take time. Trust me on this, I’ve co-written one, and would have five more (I have the titles and outlines!) out there if I could get out of my own way. But my time is my own: I don’t bill clients for writing this blog, and any time I spend writing a book is time I don’t get paid for. Governors, like Presidents, are paid to be on-duty every waking hour.

Continue reading

Ethics And Those Wacky Cuomo Boys, I: Chris And CNN [Updated!]

Really, how can anybody be surprised?

Transcripts released yesterday revealed that CNN host and beefcake star Chris Cuomo actively worked with his brother’s aides to defend then Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the many sexual harassment accusers whose accounts eventually forced the Governor to resign. Chris Cuomo. aka. “Fredo,” had looked in America’s face—you know, like Bill Clinton when he said he never has sex with “that woman”—in August and assured it that he ‘never made calls to the press” on behalf of his brother. But New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report revealed texts where Chris told aide Melissa DeRosa he would take up the allegations with his “sources,” and offered to help draft statements for his brother’s team. Cuomo used his CNN contacts dig up information about his brothers’ his accusers, presumably to discredit them. Another revelation in James’ documents was that Cuomo was working through a friend to approach actor Alec Baldwin about making a video defending Andrew.

In summary, Chris Cuomo used his contacts, sources and influence as a CNN journalist to actively assist an elected official, indeed to assist an official in avoiding the consequences of illegal acts. This is, duh, wildly unethical, unprofessional, and a breach of trust with both CNN and the public. Apparently it is even so unethical that other unethical journalists of the Left, who are usually hesitant to throw stones at fellow propagandists and fake news purveyors from inside their glass houses, have pointed their fingers at poor Chris like pod people identifying their next target for assimilation.

Continue reading