Another Morning Ethics Warm-Up Delayed Until Afternoon By Exigent Circumstances, 10/22/2020: Three Weird Stories That May Indicate That Everything Is Spinning Out Of Control

I would have mentioned tonight’s debate in the headline, but I’m not fond of thinking about the future of American democracy resting on the ability of Donald Trump to speak coherently and to control himself. Who came up with this script anyway?

Then again, God works in mysterious ways…

1. In Alaska ethics news…Here’s an ugly ethics train wreck, and one of the best examples I could imagine of the old adage, “Don’t sleep with anyone crazier than you are,” except it doesn’t seem like there was sleeping involved.  

The mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, resigned last week after admitting that he had engaged in an “inappropriate” “consensual messaging relationship”— I’m not even sure what that is”—with an Anchorage news anchor.  

Berkowitz’s resignation followed an unsubstantiated claim in a video posted to social media by the news anchor, Maria Athens, promising viewers an “exclusive” story showing that the mayor engaged in sex act with underage children. When the mayor responded by calling the allegations “slanderous” and false, Athens posted what she said was an image of the mayor’s bare backside, and added a laughing emoji.

Yes, she is apparently insane. The Anchorage Police Department said it had worked with the F.B.I. to investigate the allegations about the mayor and “found no evidence of criminal conduct.”

Before Athens posted her video online, she had left a voice message for him in which she engaged in an emotional rant, made  anti-Semitic references and promised that she would be exposing the mayor as “a pedophile.” “I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Ms. Athens said, according to the audio clip. She then said she would personally kill him and his wife.

That must have been some messaging relationship.

Athens, 41, is—well, was– the main news anchor for two outlets, KTBY and KYUR. The station owner said the video she posted had not been approved. After her video went up, Athens was arrested following a physical altercation with her boss at the station, and was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

So remember, kids, never engage in an inappropriate messaging relationship with someone crazier than you are.

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Note To Senate Democrats: Tantrums Are Not Civil, Responsible, Professional Or Statesmanlike

child-temper-tantrum

I suppose this is a futile reminder, since the Democratic party, prodded by the infantile “resistance” that the party  lacked the courage and integrity to tell to shut up and shape up, has been engaged in one tantrum after another since it lost the Presidential election in 2016. In their determination to bake hate, anger and uncontrolled emotion into our once honorable political process, the Democrats have divided the nation, wrecked communities, and quite possibly damaged our democracy beyond repair. It has been opposition by tantrum, from the increasingly personal attacks on the President of the United States, to the contrived Mueller investigation, to the disgraceful impeachment sham. Of course the Democrats’ African American and extremist base would take the cue and expand the tactic into the streets, throwing a series of violent fits over isolated and ambiguous incidents that could be falsely characterized as typical, racist, and criminal.

Today, the metaphorical holding of breath and stamping of feet continued. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they will boycott Thursday’s markup of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, in protest of Republicans’ decision to move forward with President Donald Trump’s high court pick so close to Election Day. In this they are depending upon the public’s ignorance and amnesia, supported, as usual, by news media spin. What the Republican are doing with the Barrett nomination is exactly what Democrats insisted was the proper process four years ago. It is exactly what Democrats would do if the parties’ circumstances were reversed. It is constitutional and it is legal. Moreover, the nominee, Judge Barrett, acquitted herself with brio under Democratic questioning.

This is not a “we must protest an outrage and injustice” boycott. It’s an “Ooooo, we are just so darn mad that we can’t have our way!” boycott.

How petty and foolish.

The official statement just compounds the disgrace.

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Weekend Ethics Update, 10/18/20: As The Election Nears…Seeking Contrast And Perspective

  1. Ethics movie alert. Its heart is true blue—this is an Aaron Sorkin film, after all—but “The Trial of the Chicago Seven,” now on Netflix, is excellent, as well as must-watching for the astounding number of Americans under 40—50? 60?—who know almost nothing about the previous period of liberal arrogance, political incompetence and institutional failure, the late Sixties. The cast is excellent and star-studded; whoever came up with the idea of casting Sasha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman should win a casting Oscar, for example. For me, the movie brought back memories sharp and grim: what a shitstorm that trial was. Frank Langella, whom I just watched in his remarkable performance as Richard Nixon more more than a decade ago in “Frost/Nixon,” is a memorable if unsympathetic Judge Julian Hoffman. Hoffman, I think, deserves better: like Judge Ito, Hoffman never had a chance to avoid judicial infamy once that trial became a circus, and that bwas something no judge on Earth could have stopped.

Then there is the frightening reality that the Chicago Seven (and Bobby Seale made Eight), who seemed like fringe-y, juvenile extremists at the time, look moderate and reasonable in comparison to today’s antifa, Black Lives Matter followers, and…dare I say it? … a nearly critical mass of Democrats.

2. Speaking of which…Senator Diane Feinstein is under attack from that nearly critical mass for indulging in traditional professional civility and bi-partisan responsibility by not pushing the recently completed hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett nomination to turn into a hyper-partisan fiasco, like the Kavanaugh hearings. She even praised her Republican counterpart, Senator Graham, for doing a good job (it wasn’t that good a job) in chairing the hearings, unlike, to just pick an example out of the murky past, the job Senator Joe Biden did during the infamous Clarence Thomas hearings. Feinstein is nearly 90, and should not be in the Senate at that age just as the unjustly sainted Justice Ginsburg should not have been on the Supreme Court long enough to die in office. Nonetheless, she is trying to hold the line against forces in her own party that would make peaceful and functioning Democracy impossible.

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Ethics Observations On Kayla Eubanks, The Southwest Airlines Flying Slob

southwest-dress-code-64

Chicago’s Kayla Eubanks is indignant because Southwest Airlines staff refused to allow her to board her flight, saying her attire was not fit for travel. low-cut top was “lewd, obscene, and offensive.”  Eventually a pilot gave her a cover-up T-shirt so she could get on the plane. Once in the air, she took it off.

Eubanks complained via Twitter, writing, “Y’all I was KICKED OFF my @SouthwestAir flight because my boobs are ‘lewd, obscene, and offensive.’ I was told that passengers may look at me in my attire and be offended.” In her following tweets, Kayla wrote,

“I really wanna know why @SouthwestAir is policing my clothes like this. How will my shirt impact my flight, for myself, the other passengers, or even the pilot?…Y’all have a dress code for CUSTOMERS who pay to get on a plane?…It’s the constant policing of women’s bodies for me.”

Posting a  video of one of Southwest’s female gate employees fumbling to answer Eubanks’ questions about a dress code, Kayla added. “[she] practically did cartwheels to ensure that I wouldn’t get on this plane y’all. I was held at the gate for 30 minutes because of my shirt.”  On the video, Kayla can be heard telling the sympathetic pilot who eventually loaned her the shirt, “I have to leave my tits at home? Obviously not.”

Stay classy, Kayla.

Following the flap, in which the mainstream media sympathizes with Eubanks, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told the New York Post that the company reached out to Eubanks directly to issue an apology, and refunded Eubanks’ fare

“Regarding our policies, each situation is very different, and our employees are responsible for following our Contract of Carriage, available on our website,” the spokesperson explained. “According to the material posted online, the company ‘may, in its sole discretion, refuse to transport, or may remove from an aircraft at any point,’ a passenger who engages ‘in lewd, obscene, or patently offensive behavior, including wearing clothes that are lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.”

Observations:

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Friday Ethics Round-Up, 8/21/2020: Democratic National Convention Hangover Edition

No, John Wayne doesn’t speak Spanish in “Red River,” but this was the only clip I could find of its iconic “Yahoo!” sequence. This may be the best Western ever; I don’t know, I go back and forth on it. Amazingly, Howard Hawks never won an Oscar…but then neither did Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, or Cecil B. De Mille.

1. Now this is uncivil and unethical political speech (Pointer: Tim Levier):

No, it’s not justified by “tit for tat,” but the ugly, ad hominem abuse heaped on President Trump by the Democrats this week was hardly better.

2. Oh, it’s Friday; why not check in with Paige Spiranac? You remember Paige, right? I posted about her here. She’s not much of a professional golfer, but she is now a “social influencer.” She has power and influence because, let’s be frank, she looks like this, and makes sure everyone knows it:

Now she has a viral ethics tweet about slow golfers:

That’s slowLY, Paige. Mustn’t enable those “dumb blonde” jokes.

This has actually sparked a controversy in social media, though there shouldn’t be any question that excessively pokey golfers are being rude and inconsiderate. The rationalizations being offered by defenders of slow play are, sadly, illustrative of the ethics skills of too much of the public. For example:

That’s a dumb comment. Golf is a leisure sport. You are meant to enjoy the sport with friends and family and take time while doing it. Especially if you’re not playing for millions.”

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On Dress Codes, Modesty, Utilitarianism, And The Golden Rule [CORRECTED]

 

There were a lot of ethical considerations being ignored or scuffed in a strange conflict in Utah County, Utah.  Rebecca Ortinez, a regular plasma donor to BioLife Plasma Services, was told by managers at the facillity that she could not donate and had to leave the premises because of her immodest attire. According to Ortinez, who issued a detailed account of her treatment on social media, she was told, “We have a lot of RMs [Mormon Returned Missionaries] that donate and how you’re dressed is very distracting, so you are going to have to leave.”

Ortinez added a selfie of her outfit, chosen, she said, because she expected to have to wait outdoors and it was “95 degrees in the shade”:

When she was told she had to leave, Ortinez refused and demanded that the request be put in writing, which the manager refused to do. Then the manager elaborated on her objections to Oridnez’s appearance: she informed Ordinez she was distracting because her “nipples were poking out” and added  that she should be ashamed of herself. Ortinez reacted to that by refusing to leave unless the objections were put in writing and she could see the plasma center’s dress code provisions. The managers threatened to call the police and did so, telling them that they wanted Ortinez banned for life from all Biolaife Plasma Centers

After she finally left the property and received a copy of the police report, Ortinez sent out a Facebook post “For Donors, ACLU, ACLU Utah, Fox News, KSL 5 TV, KSL Newsradio, KSL.com, KUTV 2News,” telling the tale and announcing,  “Now I’m blasting BioLife on my extensive social media platforms!”

You go girl!

Analysis: Continue reading

Res Ipsa Loquitur At The Barr Hearing

No, this wasn’t Fox spin…this was the main theme of the hearings.

Yesterday’s House hearing featuring Attorney General Barr was a new low in partisan grandstanding in Congressional hearings, which by itself is astounding. That condition has made many hearings unwatchable and embarrassing for a very long time, and during the Trump administration, in  fiascos like Justice Kavanaugh’s hearing, the spectacle scarred the image of representative democracy itself. I tried to watch the recording of Barr’s hearing, and was shocked—shocked that the Democrats have become so uninterested in presenting even the illusion of fairness, shocked at the inability of the committee’s repulsive chairman, Rep. Nadler, to restrain his hateful demeanor. I cannot imagine an uglier image of the legislative branch. The transcript excerpts—I’m still waiting for the whole thing— were little easier to take. A little.

Among my Facebook friends, one particularly, a former D.C. journalist, is certifiably Trump Deranged. He literally is unable to go a day without posting a Charles Blow op-ed or the equivalent, or “Look at the horrible thing Trump tweeted!” message to go with pictures of his meals. His Facebook page is a nest of anti-Trump crazies—they flock there like addicts would head for a crack house. Yet in the middle of the Barr hearing, HE wrote, “Why won’t the Democrats give Barr a chance to speak?”

“I know your story,”  one of the more infamously dim-bulb Congressmen, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia told Barr, interrupting him before he could complete a thought. “I’m telling my story. That’s what I’m here to do,” Barr replied.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the committtee’s ranking Republican, protested, “For months you have tried to get the attorney general to come, He is here. Why don’t you let him speak?” Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/2020: The Congressional Playpen And Other Embarrassments

Good Morning!

Bulgaria has a holiday called “July Morning” that celebrates freedom, friendship, and love of life.

Maybe I’ll move to Bulgaria…

1. I cannot believe this doesn’t alienate more people than it pleases. I watched the Red Sox-Orioles game last night to open the Strangest Baseball Season Ever in Boston, and would have enjoyed it completely ( the Sox won 13-2) had I not had to constantly avert my eyes from the Red Sox management’s ostentatious virtue signaling, if you can call it that, since pandering to Black Lives Matter is far from virtuous.

Not only was the special BLM MLB logo at the back of the pitcher’s mound (BLM MLB is a palindrome!), but the full Black Lives Matter name was emblazoned on a banner, about 250 feet long, across the empty bleachers.

I’d love to know how many Red Sox executives, or if any of them, actually know what the “movement” the team is pimping for intends. My guess is that the decision to promote BLM was a cynical go along to get along decision that had nothing to do with substance, but rather was made in fear and expediency.

2. On the Fox News harassment accuser. The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Tucker Carlson by Cathy Areu now appears to have fatal flaws. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2020: Dumb And Dumber

Good morning, I guess.

It is clear, if it wasn’t already, that everything hinges on whether the American public is as stupid and inattentive as those seeking to manipulate it think it is.

1. Mobs? What mobs? I just listed to CNN’s health expert, Dr. Gupta, list the reasons there has been a surge in Wuhan virus cases. Notably absent from his list were the mass, no social distancing demonstrations/protests/riots that began two weeks ago as a prominent part of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. These, as you may recall, were largely supported by the health experts (though I don’t have a record of Gupta being among them) as they apparently decided that Black Lives Matter matters more than all the black lives that would be put in danger by ignoring the safety measures we shut down the country to install.

I also have yet to read a single news story about the new cases of the virus that highlights the completely predictable effect of the mobs, which are still roaming, as a factor in the so-called “surge,” though I can’t check everything.

Is the news media really certain that if they don’t report this connection, it will never occur to most of the public? I’m already reading accusations that opening up the states is “racist” because of the evidence that African-Americans have contracted the virus and died from it at a higher rate than the rest of the public. By that logic, encouraging the mobs of George Floyd protesters was also racist.

To re-phrase Wilford Brimley from his great scene in “Absence of Malice”: “American Public, are you that dumb?” So far, it seems so. Continue reading