Category Archives: Workplace

The Monica Crowley’s Plagiarism: Oh-Oh…This Does NOT Bode Well For Trump’s “We’re Going To Appoint The Best People” Boast

Really? This is "the best"?

Really? This is “the best”?

Many times, during the campaign, candidate Trump assured us that he “would appoint the best  people.” This was always a bit dubious, for a couple of reasons, but the main one was that the people we saw Trump appoint to represent him as his media surrogates were almost uniformly moronic to a degree never seen before on behalf of any public figure—and political surrogates are not generally shining lights. Trump  surrogates  Katrina Pierson, Corey Lewandowski, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jason Miller, Kayleigh McEnany, the horrible Michael Cohen, Boris Epshteyn and Jeffrey Lord all head-banging-on-a-wall embarrassing, making veteran Clinton shill Lanny Davis look like George Bernard Shaw by comparison, and Lanny’s a shameless hack. If these were “the best people” Trump could appoint to represent him publicly, what is his definition of “best”?

It is becoming clear that these fears were not exaggerated. I’m not speaking of the Cabinet positions, as all of those appointments are at least individuals of independent success and demonstrable accomplishments. The crucial appointments for Trump, however, are the staff around him. Both President Bush and President Obama saddled themselves with weak advisors of questionable wisdom at best, and Donald Trump really does need to have  “the best people” to lean on, even more so than his predecessors.

So far, it doesn’t look good. The latest thud came this weekend, as it was revealed that conservative author, radio talk show host and Fox News television personality Monica Crowley, who will be Trump’s senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened.” CNN found more than 50 long passages lifted without attribution from the National Review’s Rich Lowry and  Andrew C. McCarthy, Michelle Malkin, conservative economist Stephen Moore, Karl Rove, Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg View, Wikipedia, Investopedia, various think tanks, and a podiatrist’s website, among other sources. There’s no dispute, or argument about this to be made: she was caught. She did it. She stole material that was not hers, and used it in her book.

This is signature significance. Authors who plagiarize are not “the best people;” they are not even good people. They are lazy, dishonest people who fake it, and who thrive by exploiting others who are smarter, harder working and more talented to succeed. Anyone who ever listened to Crowley on the radio for more than five minutes—that was about my limit–will not be surprised by this. She is facile and smug, but without substance, all ideology and mockery, but no real insight. Naturally, the only way she could write a book longer than 35 pages was to steal.

Thus when one learns that an employee cheated like this, there is only one responsible response, and that is to fire her. If you don’t fire her, that is an admission that either you don’t understand the term “best people,” or that you don’t really care about having the best people, and just want reliable toadies and slugs.

When CNN contacted the Trump transition team and laid out its evidence (some of which you can peruse here), it received this disheartening response: Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Public Service, Workplace

Major Ethics Alarm: American Journalism Is Crumbling Before Our Eyes [Part 2: Sounding The Alarm]

flag-american-crumbling

The analysis below was preceded by Part I: Signature Significance. I suggest reading it first. After listing and commenting on several recent examples of news media bias and incompetence, the post ends with the Ethics Alarms starting point for ethical analysis:

What’s going on here?

What’s going on is pretty terrifying. There is literally no major news media outlet that isn’t biased and untrustworthy, and the profession does not appear to care. Is it denial? Is it terrible training? Is it a misguided sense of mission? Arrogance? Whatever it is, it is res ipsa loquitur–it speaks for itself.

Don’t argue that the news media isn’t always wrong or constantly allowing partisan bias to skew its reporting: the point is the same as what Ethics Alarms explained in its Snopes post.  Once bias is manifest, the reliable reporting must occuring spite of that pollution, and there is no way for the public to know when it is being informed according to proper journalism ethics, and when it is being manipulated. The examples above are egregious. They would not have been permitted even 20 years ago, and yet now they are.

This doesn’t require much acumen to spot the problem, or elaborate measures to address. Look at the examples in Part I. How hard is it to figure out that once a reporter has been shown to be colluding with one party over another, it’s “Bye-bye and welcome to the baby zoo animal beat!” If it is so impossible for a Sunday news show to find four expert commentators who aren’t in Trump-freak-out mode, it’s time to upgrade the potential guest pundit list. When an anchor wildly mistates a fact like the McConnell quote that has been repeatedly debunked, 1) correct it, 2) apologize, and 3) give her a few days off without pay. How hard is that? It’s not hard, unless the entire profession is so devoid of ethical training and habits that it literally doesn’t know how to be honest, objective, fair, competent and responsible…you know, as in trustworthy.

Professions are obligated to police themselves. It shouldn’t be a conservative media watchdog site like Newsbusters that reveals Camerota’s unconscionable repetition of the long-debunked claim that Republicans vowed to obstruct Obama “from Day One”, it should be CNN’s competitors, or CNN. Brian Stelter, CNN’s own media watchdog, didn’t report on any of these episodes, because he has been dedicated to playing defense for his network, denying that news media bias exists. On October 16, just before another Wikileaks dump showed how many mainstream media journalists were regarded by the Clinton campaign as allies, Stelter engaged in a long sneerfest mocking the idea, which he attributed to Trump, that the news media was biased against Trump and trying to elect Clinton, beginning with… Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, U.S. Society, Workplace

A President Was Right, The Bunker Hill Indiana Police Are Wrong…And Also Ethics Dunces:

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In Bunker Hill, Indiana, the police department resigned en masse over complaints about mismanagement and alleged unethical requests from the town council.
Town Marshal Michael Thomison submitted his letter of resignation and the resignation letters from his four unpaid deputies during the regular meeting of the town board last week.

Thomison alleged in his “I quit! Write your own damn parking tickets!” letter that the town board asked him to be involved in “illegal, immoral and unethical conduct,” as well as cutting police support and refusing to communicate with the officers. The Bunker Hill town council issued a statement denying the accusations, but it doesn’t matter what the provocation was. The police were in the wrong. This was settled long ago, by a wise man who clarified a bedrock principle of public service. Doing so helped make him President of the United States.

In 1919, as America recovered World War I, prices were rising faster than wages. With soldiers returning from Europe flooding the U.S. labor market, the burgeoning labor movement seized the nation. One-fifth of the country’s workers went on strike that year. New York’s harbor workers, textile workers in Massachusetts,  dressmakers, phone workers, elevated train workers— a general strike in Seattle closed all businesses from February 6 to 11. Some feared a Communist take-over.

The Boston police force was at the end of its forbearance. Starting pay for new officers had not risen in 60 years; police wages were  lower than those of unskilled factory workers. Officers worked seven days a week, with a day off every other week. They could not leave town without special permission. The typical work week for police was between 72 and 98 hours, and officers were required to sleep in the station houses, where conditions were uniformly horrible, with sub-standard sanitation, baths, beds, and toilets.

By June of 1919, with their legitimate grievances unaddressed, the police tried to unionize. The Massachusetts governor and his attorney general put forward legislation to make unionization illegal for public employees. The police responded  by voting 1,134 to 2 in favor of a strike, and scheduled it to start at evening roll call the next day.

On September 9, 1919, the Boston Police Department officers went on strike. Boston descended into lawlessness, with everything from petty crimes to looting and riots, and the  harassment of the striking officers. The mayor and the governor called out the State Guard, with the governor being adamant that there would be no settlement of grievances until the police returned to their jobs. To show he wasn’t bluffing, he eventually had  5,000 State Guards guarding the city with  mobile units using machine guns. His blunt and unequivocal statement made him nationally famous:

“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

The police strike collapsed. By mid-December, the police commissioner had hired a new police force with higher pay, better working conditions, and additional holidays.

Police didn’t even have to pay for their own uniforms any more.

The next year that stalwart governor was nominated as Vice President on the Republican presidential ticket. By 1921, he was Vice President, and by 1923, President of the United States. His famous pronouncement about strikes against the public safety was one of his least concise statements. He was, of course, Calvin Coolidge.

Silent Cal was right in 1919, and he’s still right. Whatever the provocation and however just their cause, the Bunker Hill police were harming the public when they quit without notice or warning, and violated the public trust.

Meanwhile, Miami County Sheriff Tim Miller says that county deputies will patrol the town and respond to calls until a new police department can be hired.

___________________

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

Baseball Installs An Anti-Hazing, Anti-Bullying Policy That Proves It Doesn’t Understand What’s Wrong With Bullying And Hazing

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Every year, Major League Baseball teams indulge in a high-profile, stupid and offensive ritual by forcing their rookies to dress in ridiculous costumes as they travel  home after their final road trip. This is  hazing, the team’s veterans humiliating the team’s young players and forcing them to show proper deference and character by submitting to it. Most of the time, the humiliation involved dressing in drag, because, as every red-blooded American male knows, nothing is worse than being compared to a woman. Continue reading

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Workplace Dilemma: Do You Really Want To Know What Everyone Else Is Being Paid?

Miles Teller, who really showed THEM...

Non-La La Land star Miles Teller, who really showed THEM…

The male star of the buzzy movie musical “La La Land,” which opens next week, is Ryan Gosling. The role was originally offered to Miles Teller, who was a rising hot property and star on the threshold for acing the role of the abused drummer in “Whiplash,” like “La La Land” directed by Damien Chazelle.

But according to the people familiar wit negotiations, Teller was insulted by money he was offered,  a paltry $1 million, primarily because his putative co-star, Emma Stone,was being offered almost $3 million. After some back and forth, Chazelle replaced Teller with Gosling. Thus did Teller lose out on an a rare opportunity to make himself a major star in a film that is widely believed to be an Oscar magnet, and, of course, he won’t have that million dollars, either.

This a particularly vivid example of the ethics dilemma created by comparative salaries. I have not seen or heard of a satisfactory solution to it, from the management side or the labor side. Management would prefer that employees not know what other employees are making, and with good reason. The information can cause envy, bitterness, anger and lawsuits. Every employee has a tendency to believe they are more valuable, and indispensable, than they really are. Of course, some employers want to keep salaries secret because there are disparities that they cannot defend, or that may be illegal. While transparency is desirable to prevent unfair salary differences, however, it can make legitimate disparities untenable. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Workplace

Unethical Facebook Post Of The Month: The Fired KFC Employee

unethical-tweet

We can make short work of this one. The post, which is being circulated around social media with great glee, embodies an unethical impulse, breach of confidentiality, and vengeance. It is miles away from the other end of the disgruntled ex-employee spectrum, but on the spectrum nonetheless, along with taking a shotgun to one’s former office and firing away. Trying to harm an employer because you got yourself fired simply illustrates the kind of character deficits that resulted in the termination.

As with everything else in life,there is an ethical way to get fired. That would be to shake the hand of the one who handed you the pink slip, state your appreciation for the chance to work and sincere regret that it did not work out, then to say good-bye and good luck to fellow workers, then walking out with head held high. Leaving while darkly muttering “You’ll be sorry!” under your breath, or trying to harm the company’s reputation or business though retaliation later, is both unethical and stupid. Calvin better hope his ill-considered message doesn’t get into any potential employer’s hands. You’d have to be nuts to hire someone like him.

His is the not-so-secret recipe for distrust and failure.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Facebook, Workplace

Meltdown At Gate 43

american

As you probably have discerned, I am not having a good week on the road.

Today I am in Tucson, Arizona for less that 24 hours at a lovely resort that I will get to enjoy essentially not at all. Getting here, however, was the ethics adventure, or perhaps ethics breakdown is the better term.

My flight was supposed to start boarding at 4:30, but for some reason unclear to the assembled, did not. It was a real mob, a full flight, and as always at Reagan National , people were jockeying for position. They were also confused; a neighboring American gate was also boarding, and the announcements sounded like they were coming from our gate. Suddenly a gate attendant—is that what they are called?—came running up, and pushed through the crowd, sporting a big grin, why, I have no idea.

He grabbed the microphone and said, “All right, everybody, we’re ready to board American flight 2766 to Phoenix!” and nothing else.  “I guess they’re boarding everyone!” someone said, and there was a mad rush for the lane. “No no no!” the new arrival said. “First class only!” ” Did he say ‘first class only’ before?” I asked the young women standing next to me. “No,” she said, confirming my belief, “but then I can’t tell what he’s saying anyway.” True enough: the guy mumbled and didn’t seem to know how to use a mic. Then the VERY CLEAR announcement from the adjoining gate boomed out: “Now boarding Group 2!”

Again a mob of my flight’s passengers rushed the gate, and the young man with the grin shouted “NO! Get back! Now we are boarding the Platinum, Gold, Silver, American Plus, Bronze Bonus, Flying Potato passengers only!” Or something like that. He was barely heard, and the announcement from the nearby gate washed over it. “Now boarding groups 1,2 and 3!” More confusion. Another American employee at the our gate took the mic, a young woman. “AH!” I thought. “She obviously knows how to do this.”

No, she didn’t. You know that woman in “Jaws” who sees the shark in the lagoon and shouts “Shark! A shark!” so weakly that I have never been able to figure out why Spielberg cast her? The American lady made THAT woman seem like Ethel Merman by comparison. Her mouth moved, but nothing came out. “What did she say?” “What was that?” Everybody was asking everyone else if they could figure out who was supposed to go next. Then the guy who arrived late started shouting at us!

“We have not called the priority levels or group 1 yet! You are blocking passengers from accessing the gate! Move out of the lane.” From next door: “NOW BOARDING ALL GROUPS!!”

More chaos and confusion. Eventually I moved through to the jetway; I have no idea if they called my group or not. There were four attendants at the gate, an older man checking the boarding passes, the mute, the jerk who shouted at us (Rule: if crowd gets out of control, it’s the crowd controllers who usually are at fault), and a women in a uniform who was standing to the side looking like this was funny to her and otherwise doing nothing. I assumed she was a supervisor…a bad one. So I went up to her, and said, not entirely pleasantly, “This is the most incompetent boarding process I have ever seen. It’s inexcusable.”

She looked at me indignantly and said, in some kind of Hispanic accent, “This is America, sir! If you want to make a complaint, contact management. I’m just an employee,”

Wait..WHAT? Now I have to deal with an arrogant Hispanic American with a chip on her shoulder? Is she going to lecture me on white privilege? “This is America”? What the hell does that have to do with anything? Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, U.S. Society, Workplace