Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/14/2020: Only One Pandemic Note Out Of Five!

Good morning!

I am disgusted with this brain-dead talking point: perhaps my most Trump Deranged Facebook friend posted a rant–at least he wrote his own this time rather than searching the web for the latest from established “resistance” pundits (Dana Milbank, Paul Krugman, Joe Scarborough, about a hundred others)—making the “point” that President Trump wasn’t “elected to do heart surgery,” so the argument that Dr. Fauci’s opinions on the Wuhan virus shouldn’t dictate policy because “he wasn’t elected” were foolish. How did people like my friend get this way? He is obviously amazingly receptive to Democrat-crafted narratives, and probably hypnosis as well, so I guess I should be glad he doesn’t think he’s a chicken.

We elect leaders to consider and weigh many opinions of advisers, experts and specialists in narrow fields to balance those among other considerations in deciding what is in the best long and short term interests of the nation. That’s why, among other reasons, the we have a civilian in charge of the armed services. This increasingly popular (and tiresome) claim from the Left that if the recommendations of scientist aren’t followed, it is proof of ignorance and recklessness is logically, historically and politically unsupportable. If it’s sincere rather than a partisan tactic, it is ignorant  as well.

Scientists aren’t accountable to the public for their opinions; if they are wrong, they just come up with new theories and conclusions.  Scientists and health care specialists also, as we have said here many times, operate within the tunnel vision and priorities of their own specialties. All Dr. Fauci focuses on is the likely (as they appear at any given point) health consequences of national policy. Economic, security, political consequences are not his concern, nor should they be. Arguing that his position on the best national policy must be accepted by the President is irresponsible as well as incompetent, and this is true without even considering the fact that Fauci and the “experts” have been repeatedly wrong about the pandemic already, as Senator Paul pointed out this week.

1.How sports teaches character. I am going to have to take two hours out of my day because the MLB channel, improvising like crazy to come up with programming without any baseball games to cover, is replaying the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, best known for Game 6, when Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning of arguably the most exciting World Series game ever played. I was at Game Six and two more in that seven game series (thanks to the generosity of my late law school friends and classmates Mitch and Myron Dale, whose father was then president of the Reds), but it was one I didn’t see in person, Game 4, that was the Ethics Game.

Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant, with his team facing a daunting three games-to-one deficit if it lost, pitched a nerve-wracking, complete game 5-4 victory, protecting a one-run lead for most of it despite lacking his best stuff against the toughest line-up in baseball. Nearly every inning, the Reds had men on base and threatened to take the lead; over and over again Sox manager Darrell Johnson trudged out to the mound to replace Tiant, only to have his ace shake his head, insist that he would get the job done, and demand that his boss return to the dugout. TV closeups of the Cuban’s grim and sweat-covered face showed pure determination as he took the fate of the team on his own back fearlessly and without hesitation. Tiant, an old man in baseball years, threw over 180 pitches that night in the era before they counted pitches; today, starters are seldom allowed to throw more than 100. Even more than the famous Curt Schilling “bloody sock” game in 2004, that athletic performance epitomizes for me the ethical virtues of professionalism, honor, perseverance, accountability, fortitude, courage and sacrifice. I have pictured Luis Tiant’s face  many times since when I have been under pressure to succeed, or facing a challenge while not feeling at my best. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/26/2019: The Pooping Engineer, Fake Newspapers, And Other Things Not To Be Thankful For

As the Happy Holidays countdown continues…

1. More trivial ethics: Watching Season #2 (2015) of the excellent Stephen Bochco procedural “Murder One,” my wife and I were stunned to hear an expert witness in the trial of one of the teenage shooters in a school bus mass murder point out, while noting that most sociopaths don’t kill people, the Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton were examples of very successful sociopaths. It’s very unusual to see favored progressive narratives challenged in television dramas. Of course, this would have been an opportunity for Trump-bashing had the show been filmed a couple of years later.

2.  Ew. Matthew Lebsack, an 18-year employee of the Union Pacific Railroad Co., defecated on a train-car knuckle three years ago, threw feces-covered toilet paper out of the locomotive window, and informed his manager that he had left a “present” for him. Lebsack’s co-workers cleaned up his droppings using bottled water and paper towels.

At the investigation hearing, Lebsack admitted the specifics of the incident and apologized for his behavior. He claimed he  was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, and his wife had just left him at the time of the incident.

I wonder why?

Yeah, that justifies throwing one’s poop around the workplace. Lebsack was fired, shockingly. His union, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division, or  SMART appealed and the matter was sent to an arbitration board.

The arbitration board found that firing “was too harsh.” That’s good to know, just in case a clueless ethics class frustrates me so much I decide to take a dump on the podium.   Lebsack’s medical and psychological issues were deemed to be sufficient mitigation that board ordered Lebsack to be reinstated once he successfully completes a physical and a psychological evaluation. Union Pacific appealed to vacate the decision and SMART sought to enforce it.

U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher ruled that, under the Railway Labor Act, he was without authority to review the merits of the board’s interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Buescher said the arbitration board’s decision fell within its discretion, although he admitted that he didn’t understand its reasoning. Continue reading

Pokémon Go Ethics: Beware The Terms Of Service Agreement!

pokemon-go-starters

I had a hard time finding anything unethical about Pokémon Go, the smartphone GPS scavenger hunt game that sends players all over the landscape to find and trap those adorable Japanese monsters that caused a trading card craze and more a decade ago. (I assume that anything that seems really dumb is likely to have ethics problems. You’d be amazed how often I’m right.) It seems benign. The game can be good exercise, it’s engaging for people who have no more productive avocation, and best of all, it gives American something to obsess about not named Bill or Hillary. There are some troubling signs: administrators at the National Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery felt that they needed to ask visitors not to play the game while contemplating the murder of six million Jews and the fallen heroes of foreign ways—what is these spoilsports’ problem?—and some people are letting the game endanger themselves and others, leading to these morons falling off a cliff, causing this idiot to drive  his car into a tree, and prompting this in Arizona…

Pokemon go traffic sign

Continue reading

Our Incompetent Media, Making America Ignorant, Case # 58755

Mike Ferrin, making up Constitutional law as he goes along...

Sirius-XM’s Mike Ferrin, making up Constitutional law as he goes along…

Driving along, minding my own business, on the way to picking up some cranberry juice and dishwasher detergent, I chanced to turn on channel 89 on Sirius-XM, where, by no special intent of mine, the baseball show “Power Alley,” with hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette (the latter a former and probably future big league general manager) was covering the A-Rod suspension story, currently the hottest scandal in sports.  Ferrin is a baseball commentator, and he was railing about the statement of a lawyer, quoted on the show, that it was Alex Rodriquez’s refusal to testify at his hearing before a union arbitrator that sealed his doom and resulted in his season long suspension by Major League Baseball being upheld.

“What about his Fifth Amendment rights?” Ferrin was saying. “I am very disturbed by this. Rodriguez doesn’t have to testify! He has every right to refuse! I find it very disturbing that we are being told that a man lost his livelihood because he asserted his rights as an American! It’s just wrong!”

At this point, my car is weaving all over the road as I try to find my cell phone to call the show (I had left it at home) and scream. The Fifth Amendment, which among other things protects citizens against compelled testimony against themselves under threat of government action, has nothing to do with Alex Rodriquez and his arbitration hearing—-Mike Ferrin, you incompetent, blathering fool. The Fifth Amendment does not apply to private proceedings, of which a labor grievance arbitration is one.  Continue reading

Teachers Unions: Not Unethical, Just Uninterested in the Public Welfare

His union is competent; it's just that he isn't

Public unions and their Democratic supporters (and supported) are not going to have much luck winning the public relations battle with Republicans as long as teachers unions are front and center. Teachers unions are not— I repeat not-–primarily concerned with the welfare of schoolchildren, or the public, or the deficit, or even education. Their priority is the welfare of their membership, and if any of those other stakeholders have to take it on the chin to make sure that the teachers have good salaries, benefits and iron-clad job security, well, that’s just the way of the world.

This doesn’t make teachers unions unethical any more than lawyers are unethical to represent their clients. But it does mean that any time a teacher’s union official claims to be concerned with anything but his members, he or she is lying through their teeth. And that is unethical. Continue reading