Incompetent Elected Official Of The Week: President Donald J. Trump.

As readers here know, flat learning curves on the part of leaders, and certainly Presidents, drive me crazy. Leadership is hard, and the leader who refuses to learn the right lessons when his or her conduct when a particular act or decision has disastrous results is  seriously and perhaps irreparably flawed, as well as untrustworthy.

President Trump has displayed so many flat learning curves in his tenure as President that is tempting to say that refusing to learn from mistakes and disasters is a conscious stylistic choice. Or perhaps that’s not what’s going on; perhaps the problem is not flat-learning curves, but rather the President’s well-established recklessness, his what the hell attitude that no matter what he does, he’ll come through it all right. In this latter interpretation, he has learned, but the wrong lessons.

At this point, I barely care. The problem, whatever it stems from results in incompetence. Like his idiotic tweet about the members of “the Squad” going “back where they came from,” teeing up the “Trump is a racist” ball for all of his foes; like the still ongoing controversy about his trivial statement about a hurricane hitting Alabama,;like his provocative bravado during the 9/11 commemoration reviving his disputed boast about going personally to Ground Zero, like too many careless and embarrassing appointments to list, this latest fiasco was a self-inflicted wound that was completely needless and yet has real, serious, potential consequences….like making people wonder how wise and safe it is to be governed by an executive who presides over perpetual ineptitude, laziness, and stupidity. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: July Fourth, 2017

Good Morning, everybody, and Happy Independence Day.

1. A minor item cross-filed under “Twitter makes you stupid and careless,” “Oh, sure, our public schools are terrific!” and “Is we getting dumber?”: Yesterday, whoever the History Channel allows to handle its Twitter account tweeted out the fact that July 3 was the anniversary of the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and included a picture of General…George Washington.

2. Is trolling ever ethical? When it’s pointed, clever and deserved, perhaps. Boston-based businessman and inventor V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai,  a Republican who received a Ph.D. and his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is running for the GOP nomination to oppose Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. He’s running on the slogan: “Only a real Indian can defeat the fake Indian.” V.A. sent Warren a DNA test so she could prove that she’s part Cherokee, as she asserted in the past to get the benefit of affirmative action recruiting programs at Harvard Law School and the University of Pennsylvania. The Senator refused to take the test, prompting her tormentor to tweet,

“I’m deeply saddened @SenWarren refused my thoughtful (gift-wrapped) Birthday Gift: the 23&me DNA Test Kit,” Ayyadurai tweeted Sunday. “Most unfortunate! #FakeIndian.”

He then posted screenshots of the DNA test kit he purchased online.

Why doesn’t Warren just take the test? If it shows she has Native American DNA, then she’s killed an issue that has haunted her since 2012, and will continue to unless something changes. If it shows that she isn’t an “Indian,” then all she has to do is say that she was mistaken, she had bad information from her family, and regrets taking advantage of the affirmative action programs to the detriment of real minority academics. (Harvard listed her as a teacher “of color.”)

The answer is that Warren would rather claim that the Indian issue is a manufactured slur by the right, so she can continue to claim minority status and victim status. The answer is that she’s a cynical, cowardly fraud.

Warren, Hillary, Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters constitute the mots visible leadership of the Democratic Party.

Res Ipsa Loquitur. Continue reading

Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

Twitter Makes Us Stupid, Twitter Makes Neil deGrasse Tyson Look Stupid, Twitter Allows Neil deGrasse Tyson To Make His Fans Stupid



Twitter is a wonderful medium for people who can only digest simple thoughts, as well as for those whose full powers of observation and analysis can be expressed in 140 characters. For everyone else, the social media device is an invitation to emote with inadequate thought, and to demonstrate undesirable character traits like arrogance, carelessness, recklessness and poor judgment.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, for better or worse, currently fills the niche of Pop Culture Smart Person, or PCSP. This is a role that has genuine cultural value, and has fallen in the past to such figures as Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Bill Nye and Stephen Jay Gould, among others. Smart people accepted by the broader culture can do more to help banish bad ideas, myths and biases than years of formal education, but they must wield their power with care, guard their credibility and appearance of integrity, and most of all, not abuse the trust of their fans.

In these matters, Tyson is a most irresponsible PCSP.  He ventures into partisan politics too frequently, is a media attention addict, and worst of all, he is addicted to Twitter, where he regularly tweets factoids barely worthy of a bubble gum wrapper and makes jokes that display his sophomoric sense of humor—for example, “If you removed all arteries, veins and capillaries from your body and laid them end to end, you’d die.” Steven Wright, he isn’t.

Those tweets are just embarrassing. However, it is affirmatively damaging when a man recognized as being educated and wise issues outright false scientific facts, like he did with a recent tweet announcing,

“If Batman wants so badly to be a bat, he might be more intriguing if (like Marvel’s Daredevil) he were also blind, like a Bat.”

Continue reading

KKK Wednesday: This Is Why It’s Unethical To Be Ignorant

"We're going for doughnuts!"

“We’re going for doughnuts!”

How in the world, you might wonder, would a Krispy Kreme promotion called “KKK Wednesday” get the green light from an American corporation, even the British affiliates of that corporation, and even though the promotion occurred in Hull, a city in Yorkshire?

The disturbing answer is that despite the internet, Google,  public education, and nearly a century’s history of vile acts of murder and racism that received world-wide attention, recognizing the significance of the letters KKK requires intellectual curiosity, consciousness, and a good faith effort to have a bare minimum of knowledge about the world around us.

KKK was intended to stand for “Krispy Kreme Klub.” How many people do you think vetted the promotion without a single neuron firing? My guess: high double figures, maybe more. In other settings, such carelessness kills people, destroys companies, and starts plagues and wars.

KKK promotion

Lessons of the Tulowitzki Jersey Fiasco

Troy Tulowitzki is the superstar Colorado Rockies shortstop, and has been since for nine years. He has been named an All-Star four times,won two Gold Glove awards and two Silver Sluggers; he is widely regarded as one of the best players in baseball. Last weekend was Tulowitzki jersey night, with 15,000 lucky fans getting a Rockies purple jersey with the home town hero’s name on the back.

Here is how the the jerseys looked…

His name is spelled T-U-L-O-W-I-T-Z-K-I...just like it sounds, in fact.

Tulo jersey

Observations: Continue reading

The Washington Post, Faking it.

This one’s for you, Bob Hoskins.

You deserved better.

Who-framed-roger-rabbit-Jessica-RabbitIf you come here frequently, you know that I deeply resent lazy, inadequate or inaccurate obituaries of famous and accomplished figures. Obituaries are the beginnings of their legacies, and set the foundations for how, and even if, they will be remembered. Not fairly representing these lives is lousy and lazy journalism, and worse, it is disrespectful to the deceased and contemptuous of history.

Bob Hoskins, the superb and versatile British actor, died this week. He was one of my personal favorites—a better, cockney version of Joe Pesci—but even if he meant nothing to me, the Washington Post’s sloppy and factually wrong obituary today would have been inexcusable. I liked Hoskins’ various tough guys and mobsters, but the film role that blew me away was his amazing portrayal of the human detective trying to unravel a cartoon mystery in the 1988 Disney classic, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Hoskins, in addition to wielding a perfect American accent (he was really a Cockney), was intense, funny, moving and entracing while interacting with characters that were drawn into the scenes long after he performed them. He made the complex conceit of the movie work, and I would rank it among the most impressive acting turns of all time.

Here is how obituary writer Adam Bernstein described Hoskins’ most famous role in the print version of the Post today:

“(He) won over American audiences as a detective who falls in love with a voluptuous cartoon character in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”‘


“Mr. Hoskins was a boozing detective who falls for Jessica Rabbit, a cartoon human of pneumatic proportions who can’t help but bewitch men. “I’m not bad,” insists Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner). “I’m just drawn that way.””

Continue reading

When “Oopsie!” Isn’t Acceptible: It’s “Spring Forward,” You Idiots!


From Ron Sarro, a friend, former D.C. journalist, once president of the Washington Press Club, and a reliable source:

“The ABC National weather woman just advised viewers “Don’t forget to turn your clocks back” on Sunday, then demonstrated how to use a machine to mix a booze drink. Its ‘Spring forward, Fall back,”  ABC, which made no effort to correct the error.”

Oh, nice. Now people who rely on ABC will be two hours off on Sunday. Imagine what kind of carnage this reporter’s gaffe will cause, and there is absolutely no way ABC can fix the problem. Sure, the correct information is out there in many places, but thousands, perhaps thousands of viewers will suffer because an inept and unprofessional reporter wasn’t thinking or taking appropriate care.

Sure, mistakes will happen…and this one should have been flagged immediately in the studio, and fixed on the spot. Moreover, there are certain kinds of information that cannot be excusably miscommunicated—the addresses of 911 call emergencies, for example.  Explaining to a patient over the phone how much medicine to take. Even conveying recipes in cooking shows. Such information flags itself; anyone should know that when one is telling millions of people to do something that might completely disrupt their lives if done incorrectly, you must be accurate, and you must be certain that you have the correct information and are accurately transmitting it.

We should be able to rely on professionals to understand this. There is very little professional and therefore very little trustworthy either about the broadcast networks any more, however….so we can’t.

A lot of people are going to learn this the hard way on Sunday.


Graphics: ABC News

More Evidence That Nobody Gives A Damn

If you can’t rely on quality control and professionalism at a major league baseball park, then the end is nigh.

At San Francisco’s AT&T Park Wednesday night, the batter’s box was apparently drawn by a drunk groundskeeper, and looked like this….

Bad field


…when it’s supposed to look like this, which is to say, with straight lines:

Batters box


Nobody noticed…not the players, not the umpires, not the managers. Oh, the broadcasters mentioned it, but even though the chalk did not meet the regulation requirements, no effort was made to put it right. On The Blaze, which picked up the story from Yahoo Sports, the baseball-dense commenters’ general response was “Who cares?”  Yeah, keep that attitude up, bozos, it’s probably how you do your job too.

Fans pay from $45 to $100 bucks a ticket for games at big league baseball stadiums, and the clubs rake in many millions of dollars. A batter’s box like that is the equivalent of a new Lexus with a rattle, a 5-star restaurant that never can serve a souffle before it falls, a public school teacher who says “ain’t,” nurses who don’t wash their hands and a Congress that can’t pass a budget. It’s unprofessional. It’s an insult to the consumers. It demonstrates incompetence, laziness, poor training and bad management. And if we tolerate it, the attitude will spread and get worse.

Yes, it’s “only” the chalk lines of a batter’s box. But that’s not the way they are supposed to be, and “professional” is supposed to mean that the way things are supposed to be is the way they will be.

Does anyone in this country know that any more?


Sources: The Blaze, Yahoo!