Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/27/2020: “Macho Man” Rights, A Billionaire Jerk Contest, And More

Good morning!

Not thrilled to be up before Virginia’s sunrise, but looking forward to it…

1. It’s sad what happens to Ethics Alarms expatriates...One upon a time, uber-progressive blogger/cartoonist Barry Deutsch, aka Ampersand, was one of the most prolific, open-minded, articulate and reasonable commenters here. Then Barry banned himself because he didn’t like my pointing out that his blog is an echo chamber, after he censored my comment there noting that his SJW throng’s  position on the Trayvon Martin-Zimmerman affair was intellectually dishonest.  So Barry retreated to his self-made bubble. I check in on him now and then, and that admirable open-mindedness has disappeared in the marinade of relentlessly woke and intolerant fans.

Here’s how bad it is for Barry: this what he wrote on his “Alas! A Blog”recently: “Conservatives are against all immigrants (or at least all non-white immigrants), not just unauthorized immigrants.”

Tragic. Barry Deutsch now believes that anyone who disagrees with his far left world view is a racist. The Ampersand who followed Ethics Alarms would never think such a thing, much less publish it.

2. The trouble with billionaires. The class warfare being fomented by Bernie Sanders and others for a cynical and destructive power grab is an old formula that, when it works, always brings chaos in its wake. Throughout history, it has succeeded more often than basic economics and common sense would dictate in part because so many of the ultra-rich persist in being jerks. Does being a jerk make one more inclined to get rich, or does becoming extremely rich have a tendency to make one a toxic jerk?

That’s a question for the ages, but the behavior of people like billionaires Peter Nygard and Louis Bacon make things easier for class warfare demagogues like Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, just as it did for Lenin and Robespierre before them. This story, about their absurd and costly feud, illustrates how extreme wealth can permit one’s ethics alarms, not to mention sense of proportion, go dead.

From the Times:

The Bahamian pleasure palace featured a faux Mayan temple, sculptures of smoke-breathing snakes and a disco with a stripper pole. The owner, Peter Nygard, a Canadian fashion executive, showed off his estate on TV shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and threw loud beachfront parties, reveling in the company of teenage girls and young women. Next door, Louis Bacon, an American hedge fund billionaire, presided over an airy retreat with a lawn for croquet. Mr. Bacon preferred hunting alone with a bow and arrow to attending wild parties, and if mentioned at all in the press, was typically described as buttoned-up.

The neighbors had little in common except for extreme wealth and a driveway. But when Mr. Nygard wasn’t allowed to rebuild after a fire, he blamed Mr. Bacon. Since then, the two have been embroiled in an epic battle, spending tens of millions of dollars and filing at least 25 lawsuits in five jurisdictions. Mr. Nygard, 78, has spread stories accusing Mr. Bacon of being an insider trader, murderer and member of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Bacon, 63, has accused Mr. Nygard of plotting to kill him.

Read the whole thing. Continue reading

More Evidence Of The Ethics Void That Is Elizabeth Warren.

As America waits for the results of the epically botched Iowa caucuses, the fact that Elizabeth Warren still attracts any support at all is more testimony to the fact that 1) a lot of people are just as dumb as Warren thinks they are, and 2) Democrats just aren’t paying attention.

In an awful field for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Warren stands out for her Machiavellian manipulation, pandering and abuse of her presumed authority as a scholar. After I posted on Facebook about her head-explosionworthy promise to let trans teens have a veto over a cabinet position, maybe the most ridiculous pledge I’ve ever heard from any candidate regaring anything, a Facebook friend wrote that I appeared to be biased against Warren. It’s true—I am irrationally biased against politicians who say things they obviously don’t mean in order to get votes, and who are shameless, lying, demagogues.

Liz had a particularly revealing few days before the caucuses.  The Wall Street Journal reported: Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Snack, 1/17/2020: Dirty Money, Dirty Baseball, And “Parasite”

Yum or Yecchh?

1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”

Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.

In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be  severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”

This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)”

An old, old, lament: “Laws are for the little people…”

I am constantly impressed at the perceptive and eloquent comments that issue from such a large number of Ethics Alarms readers. It cushions the blow of the traffic fall-off here that came shortly after the 2016 election, as the rapid Trump-Haters and resistance acolytes fled to secure echo chambers. (Facebook banning EA didn’t help.) I’d like both, sure, but I’ll take quality over quantity every time.

Aaron Pascal is long-time participant on Ethics Alarms, and he has issued many provocative comments, usually with a refreshing edge. This, in reaction to the most recent of AOC’s annoying and ethics-dead tweets, is one of his best.

Here is Aaron Pascal’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)”….

“Jail the poor to free the rich” smacks of a combination of two extreme positions on two separate valid social dilemmas interacting.

First, there is the moderately unsettling (to me) privately funded and operated prison system. It’s been suggested that inmates are the product that is sold to bring in money. If people stopped being put in prison, then the corporations running the prison would lose money. Ergo, they get the politicians (especially the nasty, racist Republicans) to criminalize more activity, and push for longer sentences for smaller and smaller offenses. Especially if the crimes you tighten up on end up imprisoning a disproportionate number of racial minorities. Not a viewpoint completely without merit, but if you assume it’s the norm it certainly encourages a topsy turvy view of criminal activity vs the justice system. It also requires picturing the police, the justice system, the prison system, and the government as really bad, selfish people. Which is only a problem for leftists once you get to the government, which once you assign the blame to those horrible Republicans, the cognitive dissonance goes away. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Whistle On The Post’s Dana Milbank…So Blood Won’t Shoot Out My Nose”

neurons

On a Saturday morning when my mind is foggy and my reflexes are slow after a harrowing  ordeal of prepping for and MC-ing a legal ethics game show for the D.C. bar the day before, the sighting on a worthy Comment of the Day is a cause for relief and joy. Rich (in CT) offers yet another superb post, illuminating the complex issues behind a statement in my essay about the estate tax. Rich has an impressive record for COTDs in his relatively short time commenting on Ethics Alarms, but none of his masterpieces were more welcome than this, which allows me to go back to bed. You would not believe how long it took me to type this brief paragraph. (Thanks, Rich!)

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Whistle On The Post’s Dana Milbank…So Blood Won’t Shoot Out My Nose.

Continue reading

Ethics Whistle On The Post’s Dana Milbank…So Blood Won’t Shoot Out My Nose

I know just how you feel, Lewis...

I know just how you feel, Lewis…

I was going to ignore this, I really was. Most Washington Post readers know Dana Milbank is a hard left, often unstable partisan reporter pretending to be an objective analyst. Most also know that he is prone to jump the rails of logic, fairness and reality from time to time, like here, when he blamed a “scandal of the week” mentality on the press and Republicans, and not the fact that the incompetent Obama Administration averages a scandal a week…or here, when he called millennials selfish for not supporting their President’s misbegotten health insurance scheme and acting in their own interests rather than their President’s political interests.

But his most recent column was churning around in my brain like Lewis Black’s routine about overhearing a young woman say, at a table next to him in a restaurant, “If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.” ( Black: “Now, I’m gonna repeat that, because it bears repeating. “If it weren’t for my horse…” as in, giddyup, giddyup, let’s go — ‘I wouldn’t have spent that year in college,’ which is a degree-granting institution. Don’t think about that too long, or BLOOD will shoot out your NOSE!”) Milbank’s columns are often like that for me, and this one, expressing his outrage that the Republicans are trying to repeal what’s left of the estate, or “death tax,” was one of the worst. So you can regard this post as saving my life, if you wish.

I have no philosophical objection to taxing rich people, none at all. However, I have a very great ethical disagreement with those, like Milbank, who seem to think that there is something so sinister about parents trying to amass wealth for their kids that it justifies the government laying claim to what they have achieved, grown and saved through their own had work and responsible decisions. This was the ethic that drove our grandparents, great grandparents and great grandparents to build values, families, businesses, communities and a nation.  Making life better and easier for their children than it was for them was a virtue, and properly recognized as such.

Many studies, out of fashion now and suppressed in academia because they are politically incorrect, have suggested that poverty persists through generations  in part because of the acculturated lack of a future time perspective among some groups, which is a nice way of saying that when people seek instant gratification and don’t save and invest their assets, they become poor and stay poor. It is essential to progressive cant that there are no differences between successful people and unsuccessful people…not intelligence, talent, diligence, industry or ambition…just opportunity and privilege, or the lack of them.* People really believe this, especially the people I see in worn-out clothes buying 30 bucks worth of lottery tickets at a pop in the 7-11 rather than saving the cash to get some job training, or start a college fund for their children, who, this being the D.C. area, probably don’t live with him anyway. No, there’s nothing these unfortunates can do to better their lot, you see. Meanwhile, the government preys on their present-time proclivities by creating rigged lotteries to take their money from them.

Of course, someone born into a wealthy, two-parent, stable and supportive family is equally deluded to think, as the late Texas governor Ann Richards once said derisively of George H.W. Bush, that he hit a triple when in fact he was born on third base. That still does not mean, as Milbank seems to think, that there is something wrong and undesirable about  American’s parents working and sacrificing to make sure their children aren’t left sitting on the bench, or can’t even get in the park to see the game. Milbank, like the lock-step progressive he is, believes that every individual in every generation should have to start life without any competitive advantages over anyone else, and if that means giving his competitors a head start, or making him run with weights on his feet, or tripping him at the start of the race, well, too bad, and too bad for his parents.

That’s fairness to our many Milbanks. To me, fair is for each individual to be able to make the most of what life and luck  provides, through their own abilities and efforts, with the help and assistance of parents and family being a a vital and respected inheritance that reinforces a duty and obligation to do the same for the next generation.

Anyone is free to see it differently. What should not be tolerated are statements like this, by Milbank: Continue reading

Comment of The Day (Public Service Message Division): “Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought”

Wait a second...I'm getting my rifle...

Wait a second…I’m getting my rifle…

We haven’t had one of these in a while, and I’m feeling like having a good fish-shoot in the ol’ barrel, so here we go….

Apparently there has been another development in the Wanetta Gibson saga—I know this because the last post about this horrible woman is suddenly getting traffic again—and this has moved one Terrance Skerrette—I sure hope there’s just one— to enter one of those periodic comments I receive here that serves as a public service announcement for the ethically-challenged. You know the kind—Saturday Night Live parodies of such spots used to be a staple:

“Hello. I’m Jack Marshall, and this is Terrance. Terrance was raised in an environment that left him with an inability to understand ethics. That’s right–he will go through life justifying horrendous conduct by using rationalizations, hideous logic, and warped values. Will you help Terrance? No, he can’t be helped by treatment, but perhaps, if you give generously, we can provide him with a comfortable shack in the forest and plenty of food, so he can live comfortably without infecting anyone else with his hopeless ethical ignorance and dangerous excuses for terrible conduct. Please send your generous contributions to “Help Terrance,” care of Ethics Alarms. Thank you. Terrance would thank you too, but he probably thinks you are evil.”

Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: The Hugo Chavez Fan Club (Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), Oliver Stone and Joe Kennedy III

"We love you Hugo, we really do-oo! There isn't anyone, we love like you-oo! When you're not with us, we're blue! Oh, Hugo, we love you!"---From the new musical, "Bye-Bye Chavez," written by Oliver Stone, starring Sean Penn!

“We love you Hugo, we really do-oo! There isn’t anyone, we love like you-oo! When you’re not with us, we’re blue! Oh, Hugo, we love you!”—From the new musical, “Bye-Bye Chavez,” written by Oliver Stone, starring Sean Penn!

What do we learn from those who mourn the passing of Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez and praise his leadership? Chavez leaves his nation with a corrupted judiciary, an intimidated and manipulated press, a soaring violent crime rate, massive debt, crumbling infrastructure, galloping inflation, government-sanctioned anti-Semitism, and the prospect of political instability for the foreseeable future. When we hear an American praise Chavez, we learn that he or she neither trusts or values the institutions of democracy, like a free press and independent judiciary. We learn that such an individual believes that indeed the ends justify the means; that lies, repression, manipulation of news and public opinion, cultism, divisiveness and class warfare are all forgivable and even laudable in pursuit of “social justice,” roughly defined in the manner of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro, murderers all. Continue reading

Occupy Manny

Sing it, Manny! "You load 16 tons, and what do you get? Another day older and a pro-rated 20 million dollars a year.."

I admit it: Manny Ramirez’s existence is a constant irritant to me. I regard him as epitomizing the worst tendencies of professional sports stars, and the attitudes of the most conscience-free who walk among us who make/ society and the culture a little bit worse every day. I was thrilled when his baseball career came to an appropriately sordid end, with his being caught using performance enhancing drugs and retiring o avoid having to serve his suspension, and nauseated when he announced the end of his retirement a few weeks ago, hoping to lure some addled team owner into paying him a million dollars or so to hit home runs and loaf.

Now, thanks to the research skills of baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra, my morning began by learning that Manny is also akin to the recording stars, Hollywood actors, rich politicians and toadying business executives who have tried to pass themselves off as Occupy Wall Street’s virtuous and harshly exploited 99% despite all reason and evidence to the contrary. In an interview in Spanish, Manny was explaining that he might have to travel to Japan to play ball again, and said,“Somos un obrero y donde quiera que haya trabajo hay que ir a trabajar;” in English: “We are the working class and must go where there is work.”

“Working class!” Continue reading

Why Doesn’t This Government Ethics Alarm Go Off…Or Does It Even Exist?

"Let's see...cheese on a Ritz, or Beef Wellington...Hell, let's spring for the Wellington--everyone OK with that?"

I just don’t understand it. I never have.

In a report released today, the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed that U.S. Justice Department agencies spent absurd amounts for lavish food at conferences, in one case serving $16 muffins, in another dishing out beef Wellington appetizers that cost $7.32 per serving, and in yet another, a March 2009 conference of the Office on Violence Against Women, serving Cracker Jacks, popcorn and candy bars at a single break to the tune of $32 per person. Yum!

The abuse isn’t unique to the Obama Administration, but it has gotten worse. The inspector general reviewed a sample of ten Justice Department conferences held between October 2007 and September 2009 at a cost of $4.4 million, a period that included the administrations of Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. The Justice Department spent $73.3 million on conferences in fiscal 2009, compared with $47.8 million a year earlier, according to the report. Continue reading