Ellen DeGeneris Meets The Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Ellen DeGeneres’s brand and reputation have always been built on the illusion that she was nice. She was called the “Be Kind” Lady. Then, last July, BuzzFeed reported that several of her popular daytime talk show’s former and current staff members said they had been subjected to “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set. Other staff members said producers had sexually harassed them. Warner Bros. investigated the complaints and concluded that there were major problems. Three of the show’s producers were fired. When DeGeneres returned from the show’s summer hiatus to open its 18th season, she began with a vague and deeply unsatisfying apology. “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” she said in part. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”

Well wait a minute: whose name is on the title card? Who believes that Ellen DeGeneres had no idea what was going on in the management of the Ellen DeGeneres show? How is that even possible? And if it is possible, it’s still unforgivable. She is accountable.

There were also increasingly frequent accounts suggesting that Ellen herself wasn’t so nice. (I am reminded of my late night conversation with the late Broadway choreographer Thommie Walsh, who said, “You have to remember, Jack, that virtually all star performers are horrible people.”) Among the disturbing allegations was the claim that staff on DeGeneres’ show were instructed not to talk to her. She supposedly tried to get a waitress fired who chipped one of Ellen’s nail. There were leaks that she expressed contempt for her audience behind the scenes.

Sometimes the public surprises me: after all, it voted for Joe Biden to be President, and Joe has a completely phony nice-guy image that has been exposed again and again as a cynical facade. Yet in Ellen’s case, her hypocrisy was rejected. “Ellen,” the ratings companies report, has lost more than a million viewers since September, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from 2.6 million in the same period last year.

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The Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List Welcomes The Know-It-All’s Dodge,Or “I Knew This Would Happen”

Obama

The Know-It-All’s Dodge has been hanging around waiting for me to add it to the Rationalizations List for a long time. I should have added it when President Barack Obama exploded my head with this exchange, in 2015, regarding his pathetic and disastrous handling of the Syrian civil war.

In an interview with CBS’s Steve Kroft, who had earlier in Obama’s administration stated outright that his questions to the President would not be confrontational ones, there was this:

KROFT: You have been talking a lot about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You had a half-a-billion dollars from congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander of CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are, are dead or deserted. He said you’ve got four or five left.

OBAMA: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get-go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria.

KABOOM!

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Ethics Corrupter: The Boston Red Sox

red_sox disgraced

Sometimes, a mere “ethics dunce” designation isn’t enough.

The decision, announced yesterday, by the Boston Red Sox to rehire disgraced manager Alex Cora to a two-year contract that will again put him at the helm of the team is disgusting and indefensible, unethical to the core. For me, it constitutes 2020’s second major ethics offense by an organization and a sport that has been important on many levels throughout my life, substantially challenging my loyalty and affection.

I was going to call the post “Ethics Strike Two On the Boston Red Sox,” but that formula would require me to give the team a third chance to disgrace itself before I called it “out” of my life, and I don’t know if I can do that. Nonetheless, I’m going to attempt to keep the emotional component of this most recent ethics breach on the metaphorical bench in this post as I try to be objective.

I won’t promise that I will succeed.

Cora was fired by the Red Sox in January after he was found to be the architect of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme, one of the worst scandals in Major League Baseball history, trailing only the 1918 Black Sox scandal and the illegal player steroid era in its degree of damage to the sport. Commissioner Rob Manfred later suspended Cora through the end of the 2020 postseason. The revelation that Cora, a bench coach for then Astros manager A. J. Hinch,  had been at the center of an organized cheating scheme that helped bring the Houston Astros a World Championship also cast a shadow over the following year’s World Championship achieved by the Boston Red Sox, which had hired Cora as its manager. Did the cheating mastermind from Houston bring his unethical ways to his first managing job? Why wouldn’t he?

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Scary Tales Of The Great Stupid: San Diego Schools Decide That To Fight Racism, Character And Education Have To Go

Triple facePalm

Oh, yes, this will work out well.

Seldom have social upheavals combined with irresponsible propaganda resulted in more devastating mass amnesia by institutions regarding well-settled reality than “The Great Stupid,” now playing in your community and mine. Joining advocacy for such self-evident disasters as open borders, eliminating police, self-declared childhood gender flips and re-segregation is the decision to eliminate basic standards in education because educators can’t seem to explain stubborn racial gaps. Make everyone equally ignorant, unethical and undisciplined! Brilliant!

I’m not exaggerating; I wish I were. The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), the second largest school district in California with over 106,000 students, announced that it is overhauling how students will be evaluated because “teachers fail minority students more than White students.” Since the possibility that the reasons for this persistent problem may rest within minority culture and society pathologies rather than failures of the educational system is unpalatable to the Left and politically incorrect, the proscribed solution is to overhaul the way students are graded as part of what school board members call  “a larger effort to combat racism.”

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” says SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.” Thus the school board voted unanimously last week —unanimously; think about that— to make sweeping changes. There will be no yearly grade averages. “Things like” turning work in on time and classroom behavior will not affect academic grades, but will only count toward a so-called “citizenship grade.” On the docket for reconsideration in an upcoming meeting: de-emphasizing discipline and penalties for cheating.

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Yes, We Have Another New Rationalization! Welcome #20 A: “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!”

Cora

No, in fact everyone doesn’t.

I encountered this inexplicably omitted rationalization—“inexplicably” because we all hear it so often, yet its obvious rationalization character had not occurred to me—today while reading a post by a friend, a Boston Red Sox sportswriter. My friend was answering a query about who the Sox, just off a terrible season, might tap to become the new manager, since the team had unceremoniously dumped poor Ron Roenicke, who literally never had a chance to do anything but fail. The inquirer wondered if Alex Cora, the Sox manager in 2018 and 2019, might return though he had been fired before the 2020 season since he was serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros cheating scandal while he was a Houston coach in 2017. My friend, who has made this same argument to me in private conversations, wrote,

I’m not an oddsmaker, but if I was making the decision, I would bring Cora back in a heartbeat. Players responded well to Cora in his two-year stint managing the Red Sox, and it would obviously be well-received in the clubhouse if he comes back. Cora is also popular among Red Sox fans as many of them have been pining for his return. Bringing Cora back could help to rejuvenate a fan base that was discouraged by the 2020 season. As for the detractors who say he was part of a sign-stealing scandal with the Astros? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Ugh. This was not my friend’s finest hour—wait, that’s a rationalization too (19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”). Okay, the statement was awful:

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Rationalization #3A, Pollyanna’s Mantra, or “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”

pollyanna

Not only is the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List getting its first new addition since April, it’s also finally up to date. I had neglected to add the two most recent rationalizations, Rationalization 25C, The Romantic’s Excuse, Or “I care so much!” and #52A, Kennedy’s Stall,  or  “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”  to the main list after introducing them in posts

I think today’s addition is the 104th Rationalization, and I’m as surprised as you probably are that there are so many. Most of the recent additions have been close relatives of previously entered ones, indicated by the letters A,B, and C, and also making counting them difficult, especially for me, since I count only slightly more accurately than I spell.

Pollyanna’s Mantra, named after the 1913 children’s literature classic by Eleanor H. Porter (and the now more famous 1960 Disney adaptation of the novel that made a sensation out of child actress Hayley Mills, above) about a little girl who was determined to see the good in everybody and everything, is another in the sub-rationalization category, stamped 3A to mark its close relationship with #3, Consequentialism. “Every cloud has a silver lining” carries on the deception of #3, which takes advantage of a quirk of human nature that wants to confer credit for the accidental and unintended benefits of an unethical decision or unethical conduct on the individual responsible for the decision or conduct. Pollyanna’s Mantra seeks to mitigate accountability for unethical conduct that has had predictable negative results by trying to shift attention to some positive consequences, real or contrived.

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Dan Rather, Ethics Villain; Esquire, Ethics Villain Enabler

My, this is ironic! In an essay defending journalism while attacking President Trump for labeling current day journalists as “enemies of the people,” Esquire writer Ryan D’Agostino both manages to prove Trump correct, and while lionizing disgraced journalist Dan Rather,  inspires Rather to show how he exemplifies what’s rotten within his profession.

“In a wide-ranging interview,” the essay/interview ‘s description says, “the legendary reporter gives a clinic on journalism, its intersection with politics, civil rights, and the future of American culture.” This alone would normally keep me from reading such a piece, were it not part of my job to expose unethical mind rot. Rather is a legend, as the cliche goes, in his own mind. Having him give a clinic on journalism would be like  Sweeney Todd giving a clinic on barbering, and no one should care what he says or thinks about anything, having proven himself to be untrustworthy and afflicted with warped reasoning.

Here, for example, is Rather’s description of the fake news scandal that cost him his reputation and career. Well, let me take that back: first read part of D’Agostino’s self-indicting introduction of it:

There were proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found—but no one questioned the truth of what they were saying. Bush never disputed the veracity of the claims. It was a strange situation: By way of a possibly forged document, they had uncovered a damning truth about the sitting president.

Wow.

  • Equivocation and deceptive verbiage: “Proven technical and even journalistic flaws in the evidence Rather’s team found.” The “technical flaw” was that the only tangible evidence Rather found was a forgery, and the journalistic “flaw” was that Rather’s report was built on a lie, which is what a forged document is.

That’s not “flawed” journalism; it’s a political attack disguised as journalism. Continue reading

Ethics Train Wreck Déjà Vu In Kenosha

Now THIS is “blood on their hands!

Three people were shot overnight in Kenosha, Wisconsin in  the third straight night of “mostly peaceful protests,” aka “rioting and looting” in response to a police shooting which may have been completely justified. Two of last night’s shooting victims died. Meanwhile, the mobs damaged and burned buildings and businesses around the city. Here’s a car lot torched by the “peaceful protesters”:

As we have seen with the George Floyd mob rule and before that, the riots in Atlanta (over the similarly ambiguous Wendy’s shooting), Ferguson (Mike Brown) and Baltimore (Freddie Gray), this damage to innocent people and their businesses is being “justified”—in truth, nothing could justify it—as a reaction to racism and police brutality when neither have been demonstrated by an investigation. But as we have seen, Facts Don’t Matter, and due process for cops doesn’t exist. Eager to disrupt society and seize power as supine politicians snivel, opportunistic revolutionaries along with some well-meaning but misguided activists, are savaging a community and causing far more damage than the original incident, based on supposition, bias, and raw emotion.

Other than the rioters themselves, these are the responsible individuals and organizations: Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “President Obama’s Epic, Tragic Incompetence: A Review”

Obama

I was not planning on re-posting this depressing piece from 2014. I found it while I was doing some research on a post that may have to wait until tomorrow, noting the delightful embarrassment of evidence of Bill Clinton accepting the favors of one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves being published today, just as Bill prepared to address the Democrat’s virtual convention.

But I realized that this was an ideal time to revisit the post, as the Democrats devote their convention to weaving dreams of an alternate past, when the Presidency was in masterful hands before Donald Trump screwed it up.

I am not entirely happy with the post; amazingly, I did not even mention what may be Obama’s worst, most lasting and most ironic failing, his steady undermining of American race relations, the tragic consequences of which we are seeing today. Four months after I wrote this, a large, angry teen attacked a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and got himself shot. Obama chose not to use his popularity with African Americans to quiet the anger, but to  facilitate the exploitation of it.

***

I stumbled upon this piece in Commentary by Peter Wehner. At first I was grateful that he had written it so I didn’t have to, and then was struck by the title: The New Obama Narrative: Epic Incompetence. New? This has been the narrative of the entire Obama Presidency, and I have been periodically and grimly drawing attention to that fact, while watching the mainstream media attempt to obscure it, from the very beginning. Now, as the Veteran Administration fiasco finally presents a scandal that Democrats and journalists don’t dare to try to dismiss as, in Dana Milbank’s description of the Benghazi cover-up, a “nothing-burger,” incompetence in the unaccountable, unmanaged, embarrassingly unprofessional Obama Administration is suddenly being pronounced unacceptable. To the contrary, it is because the news media unethically accepted it that the incompetence of this President is finally killing people.

The tragic legacy of Barack Obama will be recorded in three parts: his groundbreaking achievement as the nation’s first black President, his utter incompetence at governing and leadership, and his dishonesty and the dishonesty he engendered by those who reported to him. The first has been fatally undermined by the second and third, and the third, dishonesty, necessitated by the second, the relentless incompetence. The reason this is so tragic should be obvious to all. President Obama, like all trailblazers, needed to be a stand-out, exemplary performer to avoid setting back the causes his ascension needed to advance. But instead of Jackie Robinson, he has been Pumpsie Green, and that may be unfair to Pumpsie, the first black player to wear a Boston Red Sox uniform who knew his limitations, and did the best he could for as long as he could. It is also tragic because America, as much as any time in its history prior to the Civil War, needed a strong, wise, confident, unifying leader to deal with great and difficult problems that will only get worse with time. The challenges would have tested the best of leaders; for President Obama, with neither leadership instincts or talent, they have proven impossible. Worse, the basic requirements of governing have been proven to be beyond him, and he does not have the self-awareness or humility to seek the help he needs.

From Wehner’s piece:

“The emerging narrative of Barack Obama, the one that actually comports to reality, is that he is a rare political talent but a disaster when it comes to actually governing. The list of his failures is nothing short of staggering, from shovel-ready jobs that weren’t so shovel ready to the failures of healthcare.gov to the VA debacle. But it also includes the president’s failure to tame the debt, lower poverty, decrease income inequality, and increase job creation. He promised to close Guantanamo Bay and didn’t. His administration promised to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a civilian jury in New York but they were forced to retreat because of outrage in his own party…The White House response to everything from the VA and IRS scandals to the seizure of AP phone records by the Department of Justice is that it learned about them from press reports. More and more Mr. Obama speaks as if he’s a passive actor, a bystander in his own administration, an MSNBC commentator speaking about events he has no real control over. We saw that earlier today, when the president, in trying to address the public’s growing outrage at what’s happening at the VA, insisted he “will not stand for it” and “will not tolerate” what he has stood for and tolerated for almost six years…On every front, he is overmatched by events. It’s painful to watch a man who is so obviously in over his head. And more and more Americans are suffering because of it.”

Just as surprising as the fact that this is still being written as if it were news is that so many pundits, journalists and citizens still deny that the obvious is true. Every agency and department shows evidence of mismanagement, and yet virtually no one is held accountable by the President. He even seems to fail to grasp that such ineptitude is a problem. Asking the Veteran’s Administration to investigate its own scandal, like having Eric Holder’s consiglieri Justice Department investigate “Fast and Furious,” or an Obama political donor to oversee the investigation of the IRS’s misconduct, appears to be a defiant statement that there will be no accountability in the Obama regime, and that only how they play with “the base” matters, not whether the country is governed well. Ron Fournier writes in the National Journal: Continue reading

Oh Joy! A Baseball Ethics Story! Alex Cora Finally Speaks Out!

While the players union and Major league Baseball bicker over the terms under which the American Pastime will have a limited season in 2020, the specter of the ugly ethics scandal that closed out the off-season came out to say “Boo!” Alex Cora, fingered in the Commissioner’s report as the mastermind behind the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scheme, which apparently extended into the play-offs and World Series (which the cheating Astros won), finally talked about the episode, which promises to haunt the Astros, baseball and him for a long time. Cora was suspended for a year and lost his job as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Carlos Beltran, the Astros player who was found to be Cora’s partner in crime, was fired from his new position as manager of the New York Mets, and both the manager and the general manager of the Astros were suspended and fired.

Cora, to my surprise, was cleared in an investigation of the allegations that his Red Sox team in 2018 was also stealing signs. The MLB report faulted a single coach and determined that the sign-stealing was sporadic and relatively minor. I fully expected Cora to be found as the culprit in a second major cheating scandal, and to perhaps be banned from baseball entirely. Well, good: I’m relieved. he’s not the Bad Seed I feared he was.

Back when I was certain Cora was facing the end of his baseball career—and he still might be—I proposed a 12 Step Program for him to regain the trust of fans and his sport. The steps, which are described in detail here, were… Continue reading