Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/20/2019: Fake History, Fake Photo, Fake Assassination, Fake Native American

A dramatic good morning to all.

1. Let’s see which news media outlets report this. Because, you know, the President is the one encouraging violence…State senator Martin Sandoval, who represents Illinois’ 11th District, had a  fundraising event last week that included a mock assassination of  President Trump for the enjoyment and edification of Sandoval’s supporters. Photos posted by a woman at the event show someone pointing a fake machine gun at a man wearing a Trump mask. “Trump” is acting as if he has been shot, grabbing his chest and leaning back. In another photo, Sandoval can be seen standing next to the person holding the gun.

Thus busted, and under fire from officials of his own party, Sandoval released a statement over the weekend apologizing for the incident, which he called “unacceptable.” “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else,” Sandoval said. “I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

Oddly, he didn’t take any action indicating those sentiments at the event.

2. Now THIS is police misconduct! Wow. Portland police suspected Tyrone Lamont Allen of robbing four banks and credit unions. Yet none of the tellers noticed Allen’s  facial tattoos, and he was not wearing a mask. To address that problem, the police photoshopped out the tattoos on Allen’s face before including his picture in a photo line up.

Then the witnesses identified Allen. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/17/2019: The Deluded, The Narrative, “The Squad,” The Hedgehog, And Other Things…

PERK UP! There’s ethics to think about!

(I’m talking to myself here…I’m sure you’re fine)

1. Today’s ridiculous note on the heartbreak of  Self-Awareness Deficit. Republican Mark Sanford, the defeated  former U.S. congressman from South Carolina who is best known for having to resign as governor after going AWOL to visit his South American mistress, said yesterday that  he is considering mounting a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. (Psssst! Mark! The RNC has already said that there would be no debates, and the primaries are a mere formality.) Sanford says he will decide in the next month or so whether to oppose Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The basis on which to run against Trump is character and ethics. Of the entire universe of legitimate potential challengers, an ex-governor who escaped impeachment by resigning after making a spectacle of himself has to be near the bottom, if not lying on it.

Somebody tell him.

2. Update: The Red Sox and the late Ken Poulsen’s son are still resisting common decency, I’m sorry to report. I wrote about the on-field presentation to Brett Poulsen last week, when he was awarded the 1967 World Series ring that his father had inexplicably never received despite being part of the that magical Red Sox season. Then we learned that the Sox infielder’s daughter Kendra had never been contacted by the team or her brother, so she and her children, Ken’s grandchildren had been left out of the ceremony. I’ve tried to alert the team and have passed the story along to a baseball writer friend, so far to no avail. Last night, NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network, interviewed Brett in the stands during the Sox-Blue Jays game. Once again, the false impression was left that he is the only offspring of Ken Poulsen.

I’m sorry Kendra. This is wrong. I’ll keep trying. Continue reading

“Reputation Laundering” And The Dirty Money Fallacy

Meharry Medical College is a 143-year-old historically black institution in Tennessee. Last week it announced that it had received the second-largest grant in its history, a $7.5 million gift to study public health issues that affect African-Americans.

But the gift has prompted attacks from African-American health experts and activists. The source of the funds, Juul Labs, is the fast-growing e-cigarette company and partially owned by the tobacco giant Altria. “Juul is cozying up to the black community, and that makes it harder for some parts of the black community to call them out on their targeting of African-Americans,” says Sharon Y. Eubanks, who is an advisory board member of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California. By “targeting African-Americans”, she means that the company and Altria market its completely legal products to blacks (among other groups), who choose to buy them. [Full disclosure: I worked as an ethics consultant for Altria for many years, and enjoyed the relationship tremendously. Altria was the reason I shaved my head.]

According to the NAACP’s Youth Against Menthol campaign, about 85 percent of African-American smokers aged 12 and older smoke menthol cigarettes, compared with 29 percent of white smokers, and Juul markets menthol pods while Altria markets menthol versions of its cigarettes, like Marboro.  And how, exactly, is the African -American community helped if Meharry,  the nation’s largest medical research center at a historically black institution, refuses the Juul grant to demonstrate, well, something?

You got me. This, however, is part of a growing fad among the virtuous and the “woke”—refusing to allow organizations, entities and families that they have decided are bad from using  alleged ill-gotten gains to do good. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/23/19: War, Law, Silly Names And Silly Movies

Hi!

1  Every President should be hesitant to go to war.  It is amusing watching Democrats and the news media (B.I.R.M.*) trying to thread the needle and criticize the President for pulling back on the decision to retaliate against Iran with a military response, when the Left virtually always protests military action of any kind. It is particularly amusing since the whole Iran confrontation exposes how irresponsible, dishonest, cynical, and cowardly the “solution” to the Iran problem was that President Obama secretly engineered: the “Let’s give Iran billions of dollars back to cause terrorism and chaos throughout the world in exchange for a promise not to nuke Israel until I’m rich, retired, and can’t be expected to do anything about it” plan.

2. About the Massie case. Nobody took the bait and wrote about the Massie Trial in last week’s open forum, so allow me to explain why it’s relevant.

The legal and academic world is still reeling from Harvard’s punishing law school professor Ronald Sullivan for representing Harvey Weinstein, who, the supposedly educated student citizens of Harvard have apparently been taught to believe, doesn’t have a right to a fair trial and a zealous legal defense. In the Massie case, Clarence Darrow  came out of retirement in 1932 to defend Grace Fortescue, a rich Southern heiress who had traveled to Hawaii in order to seek justice for her wild and unreliable daughter, who accused five Hawaiian men of raping her. The trial resulted in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury,  ramping  up racial tensions between whites and native Hawaiians. Fortescue paid to have one of the native Hawaiians her daughter accused, Joe Kahahawa , kidnapped and brought to her home in Honolulu, where he was tortured and shot. Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, and Edward Lord. Deacon Jones were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. Darrow, 74 and long absent from the courtroom, agreed to defend Grace even though she was obviously guilty, a racist, and the kind of rich, privileged bully that he has spent his career opposing.

L to R: Clarence Darrow, Edward Lord, Deacon Jones, Sheriff Ross, Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie, Thomas Massie, and George Leisure

Why would he do it? Two reasons, said Darrow: he had been wiped out by the Great Depression and needed the money (he was paid $30,000) and he had always wanted to visit Hawaii. Darrow, you see, knew that every defendant deserved the best possible defense, even rich racist murderers. Continue reading

ARGHHH! Worlds Are Colliding! Baseball Jack Is Being Consumed By Ethics Jack! The Boston Red Sox Board The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck!!!!

Oh, great.

One of the odious ways “the resistance” and Democrats have “violated democratic norms” in order to destroy the Trump Presidency is to rob this President of his traditional ceremonial role in national life, the so called “king” function, which exists to unify the nation. The king function comes from the acknowledgment that the President is the head of state and holds the people’s office as the only official (along with the VP) elected by every citizen. Beginning with their substantial boycott of his inauguration and continuing, indeed accelerating, with such insults as encouraging boycotts by recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors if the President participated and the White House Correspondents Dinner’s elimination–just for Trump, of course, of its tradition of a holding a good-natured  one-night truce with whomever was President, this is a deliberate assault on national unity and the office itself.

The politicizing of the once routine and uncontroversial tradition of the President hosting a visit to the People’s House by championship professional and college athletic teams has been a particularly divisive part of the deligitimization strategy, putting teams and athletes into the position of rendering judgments on matters they are generally unqualified to consider, and encouraging grandstanding and virtue-signaling. With no previous President has accepting this honor been  confused with endorsing the President’s character or policies. Women’s teams continued to accept invitations to be honored by Bill Clinton, for example, and if there were any critics of their decision, they had small megaphones and few adherents.

With this President, every invitation has become politically charged, and presented an opportunity for teams and athletes to insult the President of the United States. This irresponsible smear of the President and weakening of his office was neatly seeded by one of the many Big Lies weaponized, Goebbels-style, in pursuit of this President’s overthrow and destruction: “Donald Trump is a racist.” This one (there are others, and I hope to finish my survey of the lot today) has endured by being repeated so often, and by so many, usually without any supporting evidence because there is no evidence. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: “Meet The Press” Host Chuck Todd

Silence, Denier!

“Just as important as what we are going to do this hour is what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter, and human activity is a major cause. Period. We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not.”

NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd, introducing a “special” edition today on climate change.

It’s difficult to see the progressive-mainstream news media alliance more openly flexing its totalitarian muscles than that, is it?

“Settled science” on this topic has become one more debate and knowledge stifling cliché,   like similar dishonest word games such as “right to choose,” “sensible gun laws” and “comprehensive immigration reform.” It also means “Shut up!” Todd demonstrated this literally, by refusing to allow any dissent on a program with the objective of frightening the public into accepting draconian and speculative policy measures by uncritically accepting a doomsday scenario that is anything but settled science.

This is not merely bad science, it’s unethical journalism. I presume that the program didn’t mention, for example, the inconvenient report just this week  that 2018 had the fewest major tornadoes in recorded in history.

Wait—how could that be, when the much ballyhooed (and criticized)  federal report on climate change had Democrats crowing things like Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX),  the presumed chair of the House science committee in January, about the certainty of report’s conclusion predicting “increased wildfires, more damaging storms, dramatic sea level rise, more harmful algal blooms, disease spread, dire economic impacts, the list goes on and on. That being said, all hope is not lost, but we must act now. We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, work on adaptation and mitigation, and explore technology solutions such as geoengineering and carbon capture and sequestration”?

The less-destructive tornadoes go along nicely with the highly- reduced numbers of major hurricanes in the past decade. Don’t they at least suggest that the “settled science” can’t predict what is going to happen as accurately as “settled science” should? Does the settled science know how long warming trends will continue? How warm it will get? Whether various proposed measures will be effective in combating it? Does the settled science know why every model has failed so far, and why all the dire reports still must be called speculative at best, irresponsible hysteria at worst?

Most news media that reported the tornado data never even linked it to climate change models and the federal report, which it directly contradicted. Check the Hill for example. Call me a stickler, but I like my “settled science” a lot more settled than “the Earth continues to warm due to man-made pollution, and this is causing catastrophic extreme weather that threatens our lives, economy and infrastructure, but for some damn reason this hasn’t been true of hurricanes and tornadoes—you know, the most destructive storms there are?–lately and we don’t know why.” Continue reading

Unethical, Shameless, Gutsy, Creepy Or Thought-Provoking: Kevin Spacey’s Christmas Video

What do we make of this, released by actor Kevin Spacey lastweek almost at the same time as he was being indicted for sexual assault?

Yikes.

The much-acclaimed actor  career collapsed in 2017 as more than 30 people claimed that Spacey had sexually assaulted them. Now he is speaking in the persona—with accent!— of his Netflix series villain, Frank Underwood, the central character of “House of Cards.” Or is he? Much of the speech seems to refer to Spacey’s own plight, and suggests that the actor is being unfairly convicted in the court of public opinion. By using the voice and character of an unequivocal miscreant however, for Frank is a liar, a cheat, a sociopath, indeed a murderer, such protests are automatically incredible.

Or is Spacey making a legitimate argument that an artist’s personal flaws should be irrelevant to the appreciation of his art, especially in a case like “House of Cards,” where the actor’s role can’t possibly be undermined by the actor’s own misdeeds: whatever one says or thinks about Spacey, he can’t  be as bad as Frank Underwood. If you enjoyed watching Underwood destroy lives on his way to power, why should Spacey’s conduct, even if it was criminal, make you give up the pleasure of observing his vivid and diverting fictional creation? This isn’t like Bill Cosby, serially drugging and raping women while playing a wise, moral and funny father-figure. Spacey seems to be arguing that there should be no cognitive dissonance between him and Underwood at all. Who better to play a cur like Frank  than an actor who shares his some of his darkness? Continue reading