Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2019: “Seeing If I Can Function After Seeing That Fox News Video” Edition

Well, it was a good morning…

…until Arthur in Maine sent me THAT.

1. Record ethics. Kansas City Royals second-baseman Whit Merrifield is a fine young rising star, but the nation will never turn its lonely eyes to him.Playing against the Mariners this week,  Merrifield beat out a squeeze bunt that not only tied the game, but also extended his hitting streak to 31 games. That set a new franchise record, beating Hall of Famer George Brett’s 30 game consecutive hitting streak set in 1980. That seems unfair, you say? Most of Merrifield’s streak was last season, you say?

I agree with you. Baseball takes the position on consecutive game streaks of all kinds that the six months between seasons don’t matter or count. I see the logic, a bit: why should a player’s chance at a record be arbitrarily ended because the season runs out? I also have the answer: tough noogies. There is a material difference between hitting in consecutive games over a single grueling season and doing so with a vacation in the middle. I guarantee that if Merrifield’s record got close to Joe DiMaggio’s iconic 56 games, set in the single, famous season of 1941 (when Ted Williams also hit .406), Major League Baseball would have rushed in and disqualified Merrifield for the consecutive game record because it wouldn’t be set in a single season. THAT, of course, would have been redolent of the controversial asterisk put after Roger Maris’s 61 home runs in 1961, which broke another iconic record, Babe Ruths’s 60. (Maris’s record was set in a 162 game season, Ruth’s in a 154 game season.)

Fortunately, Merrifield’s record chase was stopped at 31 the very next day.

This is as good a time as any to mention that the player who got me hooked on baseball, former Red Sox shortstop Eddie Bressoud, whose 87th birthday is coming up (May 2), had a knack for hitting streaks at the start of season. he hit in 15 straight in 1962, his first with the team, and set the team record for a consecutive streak at the start of the season in 1964, with 20.

2.  “Don’t be evil” a distant memory. R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. , the founder of mainstream conservative magazine “The American Spectator” announced that the publication had been blacklisted by Google, following an investigative report by The Daily Caller that revealed, Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics, 4/8/19: Is Ethics Really As Hard As These People Make It Seem?

Good morning!

(That’s Jimmy’s old vaudeville partner Eddie Jackson singing with Jimmy. Eddie was a one-trick pony and never destined for stardom, though he did appear in the Zigfield Follies. After Jimmy became a big star, he still kept Eddie on his payroll, well into Eddie’s old age. Introduced by Durante as his “partner,” Jackson would come strutting out midway through the live or TV show, singing “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” in his unremarkable voice. Sometimes Jimmy joined in, sometimes Eddie just strutted off stage to end the number. This courtesy went on for decades, until Eddie was too feeble to perform.)

1. Baseball ethics: showboating. This happened yesterday…

Why? Well, Chris Archer, the Pirates pitcher, was peeved because the Cincinnati Reds’ Derek Dietrich hit a home run, dropped the bat, and stood stock still and stared at it as it left the field. This is known as showboating and showing up the pitcher; it’s a fuck you move. Archer retaliated in Dietrich’s next at bat by throwing a fastball behind Dietrich near his head, widely considered to be taboo as unacceptably dangerous. The fight ensued.

The episode raised questions about MLB’s controversial PR campaign with the slogan “Let the Kids Play!”, endorsing the flamboyant on-field celebrating and styling brought to the game by Latin players,  Archer is one of the prime “playing” players, famous (or infamous) for dancing off the mound after a strikeout, kissing his arms, and other displays of self-admiration. Since that is his act, many, including me, feel that it is the height of hypocrisy for this pitcher to take offense when a batter treats him the same way he treats batters when he wins their duels.

On the other hand, what Dietrich did was the equivalent of taunting.

Exuberance is one thing, bad sportsmanship is another, and that’s what this was. The “kids”can play as long as they remember that real kids are watching and learning. I don’t think Roy Hobbs’ pennant-winning home run in “The Natural” was any less dramatic because he didn’t flip his bat, watch the ball go and pump his fist going around the bases.

2. Who’s the most unethical New York Times op-ed columnist? There are so many to choose from, but Michelle Goldberg is climbing fast. I highlighted her indefensible op-ed on the Mueller report recently, but I just stumbled an older column that was worse. In this one, Goldberg bemoans that Freedom House only give the United States an “86” score in ranking how democratic a nation is, dropping the US behind such places you wouldn’t want to live in like Croatia, Latvia, and Greece (Sorry, Yaya), and it’s all Trump’s fault. The score is down from 94 in 2009, when every international organization was hailing anyone and anything connected to Barack Obama, and using numerical scoring to measure something like democracy is obviously nonsense, unless the score furthers your agenda. This is similar to journalists calling organizations “hate groups” because the Southern Poverty Law center say so. It’s pure appeal to authority with an authority that has no credibility: a  logical fallacy.

Does Goldberg persuasively explain why the U.S. is suddenly less democratic? Oddly, she doesn’t mention the collapse of a responsible, trustworthy press—sure that’s worth subtracting at least 12.38 points. She also doesn’t mention how the American Left has been trying for three years to undermine elections and the elected President , or as Victor Davis Hanson writes,

“Are such efforts in the future to be institutionalized? Will the Left nod and keep still, if Republicans attempt to remove an elected Democratic President before his tenure is up? Are appeals to impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and a Special Counsel the now normal cargo of political opposition to any future elected president? Is it now permissible in 2020 for Trump’s FBI director to insert an informant into the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee?”

What do you think, another—let’s see—18.47 points down? Goldberg doesn’t think so: she focuses on such things as Russiagate, though she nods that there have been some positive developments on that front: “Several of the criminals who helped Trump get elected either have gone to prison or soon will.”

Love it. Later Goldberg says that Trump’s attack on fake news somehow made other nations start censoring the news media there. That statement above is an outright lie. None of the individuals Mueller indicted had any role in “helping Trump get elected,” as we now know. But she writes that the report gives us two reasons to worry:

The first is that it usually takes more than two years for a democracy to collapse. “Elsewhere in the world, in places like Hungary, Venezuela or Turkey, Freedom House has watched as democratic institutions gradually succumbed to sustained pressure from an antidemocratic leadership, often after a halting start,” the report said— an increase in corruption and a decrease in transparency — both hallmarks of this administration — are “often early warning indicators of problems in a democracy,” undermining public faith in the legitimacy of the system.”

What corruption is she talking about? The Secretary of State selling influence to foreign power through her fake non-profit? No, it can’t be that. An administration using its Justice Department to illegally try to sabotage an opposing party’s Presidential candidate? What about transparency? Even many liberal commentators say that Trump’s administration is more transparent than Obama’s. And who is undermining faith in the legitimacy of the system more than people like Goldberg, who support baseless Democratic conspiracy theories about a traitorous President and a stolen election?

And reason #2:

“Second, if Americans increasingly ignore Trump’s words, foreign leaders don’t. Authoritarianism is on the rise all over the globe — according to the Freedom House report, this is the 13th consecutive year that global freedom has declined. Trump’s presidency is a consequence of this trend, but it’s also become an accelerant of it.”

It’s the 13th consecutive year according to Goldberg’s dubious source, but Trump’s tweets the past two and a half years are really at fault.

Why is this “fit to print”?

3. If our democracy is failing, here’s one of the real reasons:

In Long Island,  11-year-old Bella Moscato said that she was going to choose the President for a sixth-grade assignment at Samoset Middle School to write about a personal hero. The teacher told her that President Trump was not an appropriate choice, and suggested–guess who!—Barack Obama instead.

Bella’s mother, Valerie Moscato says what the teacher did amounts to intimidation and censorship. Yes, and also indoctrination.

Sachem Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Graham issued a denial, saying,

It is not accurate that this student was told that they were not allowed to conduct research or report on any individual for a school assignment, including President Trump. To the best of our knowledge, by choice the student is still conducting their project of President Trump.

The school board is supposedly looking into the matter. The Moscatos want an apology, and if he is smart, the Superintendent will grab the chance to get off easy.  That teacher, however, should be fired.

 

 

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/6/2019: Who’s The Worst? [CORRECTED]

Good morning!

The day got off to a grand start when the first thing that came up on TV was the ending of John Wayne’s “True Grit.” When the Coen Brothers did their (dark) remake starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, I wondered which version would survive as the definitive one. Sometimes remakes of classic films obliterate the originals, like “The Thing,” or “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.” Sometimes the original films are so obviously superior that the remake just vanishes. Sometimes it should vanish, but doesn’t, like the ugly “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” created by Tim Burton. Both “True Grit’s ” are excellent, but so far, at least, the Duke’s Oscar-willing performance has prevailed. Good.

1. From the “You can’t fool all of the people all the time, especially if you’re a callow, arrogant fool” files:  Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offended an audience made up predominantly of African Americans when she slipped into assumed regional slang to lecture them about the dignity of menial jobs for life

“I’m proud to be a bartender, ain’t nothing wrong with that!” Ocasio-Cortez proclaimed. [CORRECTION NOTE: Originally, the version of this statement I had was an Ebonics-fest that I got off of a tweet from an attendee. This was incorrect: thanks to Chris Marschner for the fact check.]

Actually, the real offense was her content, not her delivery. This is communist cant for the proles: don’t aspire to more than your hum-drum jobs, for you are serving the greater good (and your superior overlords). That’s not the American values system, or American culture, which encourages productive dissatisfaction, personal initiative, and determination to be better and do better.

2. I knew Harvard wouldn’t be able to duck the college admission scandal! Harvard has launched  an “independent investigation” into a series of suspicious events that occurred in 2016. Wealthy businessman  Jie “Jack” Zhaopaid inexplicably paid $989,500  for a home in the Boston suburbs that was valued at only $549,300.  Seventeen months later he sold that home for $665,000, for a loss of $324,000. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: PBS Host Christiane Amanpour, Or “Why The Hell Is The Government Funding A Journalist Who Hasn’t Figured Out The First Amendment Yet?”

PBS journalist Christiane Amanpour, not to bias you against her or anything but merely to remind you who this pompous blight on American journalism is, once defended biased journalism, saying,

“There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”

——Christiane Amanpour in 1996, responding to critics who called her reporting on the Bosnian War biased.

Then there was this Amanpour quote, after Benjamin Netanyahu correctly objected to the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran… Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Refresher, 3/24/2019 [PART II]: Bill of Rights? What Bill Of Rights? [CORRECTED]

Now it’s “Good afternoon!”

Sunday’s depressing ethics potpourri continues…

3. Psst! San Antonio! This is unconstitutional! The San Antonio City Council rejected  Chick-fil-A ‘s application for a site at its airport this week because the company’s foundation has contributed to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage

Councilman Robert Treviño told the news media that the council made the decision based on “inclusivity.”

“With this decision, the City Council reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior. Everyone has a place here and everyone should feel welcome when they walk through our airport.”

Have these fools and censors even read the Bill of Rights? A government can’t penalize a business because it doesn’t like the opinions of its owner or management. This is viewpoint discrimination, and a screamingly obvious First Amendment violation. As Chick-fil-A accurately pointed out in its response, no one has ever been refused service or treated differently in one of the company’s restaurants because of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s their LGBTQ “behavior,” not their entirely legal and protected choice of charities and non profits.

Once again from the Democratic Party and the Left we whiff the rotten stench of nascent totalitarianism. Believe as we do, or be punished. This is the same company several Democratic mayors said were not welcome in their cities. Once again, this unconstitutional and undemocratic act by San Antonio’s Democrats is assured of a reversal by the Supreme Court, and if Justice Ginsberg still has most of her marbles and Sotomayor isn’t chasing rainbows and unicorns, it ought to be a 9-0 vote.

Local government actions like this ought to concern followers of both parties equally. The First Amendment should not be a partisan issue. Continue reading

Lunch time Ethics Warm-Up, 3/19/19: Madea, Plan C, And More.

Yum yum!

Winging off to San Diego in a couple of hours, so be on the alert for an Open Forum while I’m in the air. It’s amazing: I’m going to spend two and a half days of air travel and hanging around a hotel and airports to give a 75 minute legal ethics presentation, albeit to a mob of over 600 lawyers.

1.  From the Ethics Alarms double standards files…

Let’s see: this film has gross black stereotypes and a man in drag, but not in a good, transgender way. I assume nobody will disagree that if this film was made by a white man, it would be received with horror and declared racist, and the white filmmaker would be apologizing to everyone and everything in sight.

2. The return of Plan C! As most recently noted here, Plan C is the obscure and outdated Emoluments Clause. In a series of tweets reviving the specious accusation  President Trump is violating the Constitution by owning businesses while he is President, something never anticipated by the Founders and an issue that was barely discussed by the news media during the campaign, Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics who long ago declared himself a “resistance” ally,condemned the Embassy of Kuwait’s decision to celebrate its National Liberation Day at the hotel on Feb. 27. He wrote,

 “Kuwait got the message. Turkey got the message. Saudi Arabia got the message. The Philippines got the message. The question is: Which of our allies will stand with the American people, and which will seek to enrich our corrupt President? We will watch. We will remember.”

Oh, eat a bug. Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8) stipulates that no federal officeholders “shall receive gifts or payments from foreign state or rulers without the consent of Congress.” But payments obviously means pay-offs, and payment for services isn’t a gift. Not are Trump organization receipts payments to the President. I note that Shaub is now a fellow at The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which I used to write about more before I got sick of it. It is the political equivalent of Media Matters, posing as an ethics watchdog when it’s agenda and biases are flagrantly partisan. I regard Shaub using his prior position as authority a breach of ethics: he’s posing as an objective analyst, and he’s not. Indeed, resorting to the silly Emoluments Clause to attack Trump is signature significance. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Tales Of The Slippery Slope: Amazon And Censorship”

Autism “cures”, aka “Snake oil.”

Ethics Alarms is blessed with several commenters with specific expertise in areas that arise here often. Alexander Cheezem is our authority on autism and the various misconceptions and unethical practices surrounding it, and he contributed  valuable perspective on why Amazon was under pressure to stop offering two books about the topic. I carelessly assumed that the problem was the further circulation of the dangerous myth that vaccinations cause autism, since that is the autism-related issue we hear about most often from the media. There’s a lot more to autism misinformation than that, and Alexander graciously enlightens us.

As he acknowledges, the thrust of the post is not dependent on why the two books have been pulled The remedy to bad information is good information, not censorship–like the useful information in Alexander Cheezem’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Tales Of The Slippery Slope: Amazon And Censorship”:

Okay. I’m actually quite familiar with one of the books in question — I even spent about five years dealing (over and over and over again) with its author and her brand of bullshit (yes, that’s actually the technical term)… and I have to say that your analysis is flat-out wrong on one major point and significantly off in another respect.

Of course, whether that impacts the rest of the analysis is another matter.

The major problem with your analysis is that what sets those books apart is not that they’re anti-vaccine… but don’t take my word for it. As I write this, I’m paging through my first-edition copy of Rivera’s Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism (my second-edition copy is somewhere), so I’ll use it to illustrate. Let me give you just a small sample of what the book actually contains.

The thing is essentially a protocol book, dedicated to “teaching” parents a complicated pseudoscientific and ritualistic protocol centered around having the parents feed industrial bleach (chlorine dioxide) to their children, bathe their children in a solution of industrial bleach, and give their children bleach enemas. Continue reading