Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/4/2020: Marching To Georgia Edition

Hello, I must be going…

Desperately trying to get this post out before the walls close in. I’m doing a program for an always receptive BigLaw firm in Atlanta, and its a program I know well, and I’m still anxious about it. It doesn’t help that I have some kind of cold, but the show must go on…

1. Super Tuesday musings…

  • Last night, I stumbled on  a Fox News panel discussing the Julie Principle at length regarding Joe Biden’s brain farts and Trump’s Tweets! They didn’t use that term, of course, but it would have helped explicate what they were trying to say, which was that once you’ve decided to accept the flaws of a candidate, more evidence of those flaws won’t change your support.
  • Speaking of… Joe Biden got his sister and his wife mixed up during his victory speech. If there was ever a question of how much the country doesn’t want socialism, the fact that so many Democrats preferred to vote for this sad husk than capitulate to Bernie should answer it.
  • How proud I am of my home state, which told the world that even voters who know  best, and presumably support to some extent, Elizabeth Warren don’t think she should be President. Thus they validated Abe Lincoln’s rule: you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Warren was the 2020 field’s worst demagogue and biggest hypocrite, as well as one of the most shameless liars. As I write this, she hasn’t dropped out yet, perhaps because she doesn’t want to help Sanders, whom she still resents for saying that a women couldn’t be elected President. Well, he was right as far as she is concerned. Good.

Warren was easily my least favorite of the Democratic contenders from an ethics standpoint. After I posted on Facebook about one of her many deceptions, a friend, apparently seriously, commented that I seemed to have a real bias against her. It reminded me of one of Martin Short’s brilliant improvs as idiot celebrity interviewer “Jiminy Glick,” when he cracked up Mel Brooks by asking, “Now what is it that you have against Hitler?”

2. Wait, he did WHAT??? Cedric Sunray, a college recruiter from Oklahoma Christian University,  visited Harding Charter Preparatory High School in Oklahoma City last month and met with 110 juniors and four teachers in the gymnasium to talk about opportunities at the college. He then asked the students to line up from darkest to lightest skin complexion, and then line up from “nappiest” to straightest hair.  As the students lined up, some of the teachers left to report the request to school administrators, who intervened. Sunray was quickly fired.

Sunray later wrote that the exercise was meant to be an “icebreaker” and that he has made the same presentation dozens of times at other institutions. Really? And nobody complained?

The president of Oklahoma Christian University, John deSteiguer, visited the prep school to apologize to students and staff members. Too late, I’d say. Any school that would let someone like Sunray represent it is too inept to be trusted. Continue reading

How The Beautiful People Hate It When The King’s Pass Is Revoked! The Caroline Baumann Saga

Baumann and “the dress.”

Rationalization #11, The King’s Pass or The Star Syndrome, is more than a rationalization. For America’s celebrities, star performers and elite athletes, the super-wealthy and the politically powerful, it is a way of life. From the description on the Rationalizations List: “Celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.”

Most of the time, however, the King’s Pass is not rejected, and as long as the miscreant involved hasn’t dared to wind up on the wrong side of a political divide, his or her fellow “kings” will make the biggest stink since the skunk factory exploded when one of the elite club is forced to tow the lines drawn for their inferiors.

Two weeks ago, Carolyn Baumann was forced to resign as the director of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan after a government  investigation found that she had engaged in conduct connected to her wedding that made inappropriate use of her position for personal  benefit. The Smithsonian’s inspector general had looked into irregularities regarding the procurement of her wedding  dress and the wedding space after a complaint was made by a museum staff member, and didn’t like what he found. Continue reading

New Week Ethics Jolt, 2/24/2020: Uncivil Gravestones, Conflicted Zamboni Drivers, And Unintelligent Intelligence Experts

Hello, mates!

That hilarious novelty song, a big hit in the same year Kennedy was shot, is now too politically incorrect to play in the U.S. Is it also song non grata Down Under?

1. Unethical Headline of the Day. From the Washington Freebeacon, a conservative news site: Dem Megadonor, Gun-Control Activist Harvey Weinstein Convicted on Rape Charges. This unethical device is used a lot now, though seldom this flagrantly. It’s Cognitive Dissonance Scale gamesmanship, attempting to smear positions that the headline-writer opposes by linking them to conduct that they have no relationship to.  There is no logical reason why gun control or the Democrats should be implicated in a headline to Weinstein’s rape conviction. I’m not even sure the connection belongs in the news story at all.

2. Gee, I wonder why the President doesn’t trust his intelligence specialists. The Russian collusion conspiracy theory flared up again among the Trump Deranged after Shelby Pierson, the official in the intelligence community charged with election security, apparently botched her briefing to Congress.

Three national security officials told CNN that the briefer falsely (wrongly, mistakenly) said that Russia was planning to help Trump win re-election:

The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. But the US does not have evidence that Russia’s interference this cycle is aimed at reelecting Trump, the officials said. “The intelligence doesn’t say that,” one senior national security official told CNN. “A more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it’s a step short of that. It’s more that they understand the President is someone they can work with, he’s a dealmaker.”

Since this comes from CNN, otherwise known as Bash The President Central, it cannot be dismissed as administration spin. My Facebook Friends reacted to the original story with utter glee, gloating that they knew Russia viewed Trump as a Russian asset.

If Trump fired her, and I wouldn’t blame him, he’ll be accused of a “purge.” Continue reading

#MeToo Ethics: Prosecuting To Stigmatize The Accused

It’s not just the impeachment..apparently prosecutors are beginning to adopt the Democratic Party’s theory that it is appropriate to force a trial when there is no chance at conviction just to stigmatize the accused. This is a clear breach of prosecutor ethics, but ethics schmethics, the ends justify the means, right?

The area in which this despicable strategy is surfacing is—and this should be no surprise—the realm of #Me Too. In Maine,  Natasha Irving , who is the top prosecutor for Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties,  wants to reform how the legal system prosecutes sexual assault cases, believing all women so those who come forward know they’ll be “supported.” This means, according to  Irving, that prosecutors shouldn’t decline to prosecute a sexual assault case just because they “think it’s too hard to prove.”

“Individually, I think that response is very damaging to a survivor,” she says. “If they weren’t believed initially, they don’t have faith that they’re going to be believed if they come forward again. Or that they somehow will be put on trial for what happened instead of the perpetrator. There’s a lot of shame and blame that the victims often carry.”

Yes, that’s a problem. A greater problem is prosecutors bring cases to trial when the don’t have enough evidence to prove the defendant guilty. Then they are just counting on an incompetent jury, which isn’t that much of a longshot. The attitude Irving is endorsing is how black men end up in prison for murders they didn’t commit. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/16/2020: Special “Morning Warm-Up That Actually Gets Posted In The Morning” Edition [UPDATED!]

Good morning, good morning!

Well, my Christmas tree is drying out, and its demise is near. Every January since I was a small child the slow acceptance that soon this bright, sparkling symbol of innocence, love, family optimism and joy will be gone has been painful, and you know, in this respect, I haven’t changed a bit. There’s no reason, of course, why we can’t have the spirit of Christmas all year long—heck, Scrooge pulled it off—but somehow the loss of the Christmas tree reminds me that everyone will be back to their same petty, nasty, selfish ways, if they aren’t already. Even me.

<sigh!>

1. The New York Mets don’t get ethics, but we knew that. The Mets’ new manager is Carlos Beltran, fingered in the MLB report on the Houston Astros cheating scandal as one of the ringleaders of the scheme that already has cost that teams manager and general manager their jobs. Alex Cora, who shared prominence in the report with Beltran, also was fired from his job as manager of the Red Sox. Beltran escaped snactions from MLB because he was a player at the time, and the baseball management decided, for many reasons, that it could not punish the players. But now not just a player, but according to the investigation the player at the center of the cheating scandal is a manager. Isn’t the next step an obvious one? A major league team can’t have as its field leader a player who was recently identified as a key participant in a cheating scandal in which ever other management figure was fired, can it? How hard is this? To make matters worse, Beltran had  recently lied in interviews with sportswriters about his knowledge of the Astros scheme. Yet so far, the Mets haven’t taken any action at all.

Beltran will be fired before the season begins, but the longer it takes for the Mets to figure out why, the more clearly the organization’s ethics rot will come into focus.

UPDATE: Beltran was sacked by the Mets this afternoon. (Thanks to Arthur in Maine for the news.) See? What did I tell you?

2. And speaking of baseball ethics rot, New York Times sports columnist Michael Powell proved his nicely. He mocks the current baseball cheating scandal thusly: Continue reading

“Miracle On 34th Street,”An Ethics Companion, Continued…Chapter 3: Kris Joins The Macy’s Family! [REVISED and CORRECTED!]

(The Introduction is here.; Chapter I is here.;Chapter 2 is here.)

 Kris takes Santa’s throne

Kris’s rave reviews as Santa in the Thanksgiving Day Parade are so good,  Doris hires him play Santa at Macy’s flagship New York City store on 34th Street. He agrees, which is strange, when you think about how busy he should be at this time of year, supervising the elves and all. If he really is Santa, or even if he thinks he is, taking the job in New York is irresponsible.

His supervisor gives him a list of toys to “push”—toys that are overstocked. “Now, you’ll find that a great many children will be undecided as to what they want for Christmas. When that happens, you suggest one of these items,” Kris is told. “You understand?”

Kris says he understands, but later makes it clear in his comments to a co-worker, that he has no intention of “pushing” the merchandise.:

“Imagine…making a child take something it doesn’t want…just because he bought too many of the wrong toys.That’s what I’ve been fighting against for years!”

That being the case, there is exactly one thing Kris needs to do. He needs to quit. What he cannot do, and must not do, and has a clear ethical obligation not to do, is to accept a job when he has no intention of doing what the job requires. This is a sales job. If Kris doesn’t want to sell, then he will be accepting a pay check under false pretenses. This isn’t noble conduct, as the film would have you believe. It’s unethical conduct. It’s wrong.

Kris needs to put himself on his own naughty list. Continue reading

Sunday Before Christmas Ethics Ornaments, 12/22/19: Googling Ethics, “Cats,” Goldman Sachs, De Niro, Trump Derangement

Here’s hoping that the the next three days rescue the Spirit of Christmas…

…because the last few weeks have been a downer, man.

1. Googling ethics:  Phillip Galanes, at Social Q’s was consulted by a woman who had bad vibes about her girlfriend’s new love, so she googled him, and found out, as she suspected, that he had some serious red flags in his past. She told her friend, who had discovered the bad news herself, but who was hurt and angry that the inquirer did a background check on her boyfriend. “Was I wrong?” she asked. In his answer, Gallanes implies that she was, although “everybody does it.” I’d like a nice, succinct, substantive explanation of by what ethical theory it can ever be wrong to access publicly available information about anyone. This isn’t an issue of privacy, because the information isn’t private. There was nothing wrong with the inquirer’s motives, because she was concerned about her friend.

I’d call this the Ick Factor at work. It seems unethical because the fact that anyone can check our lives out online is creepy. The research itself, however, is ethically neutral. The ethics comes in with how the information is used.

2. I guess I have to mention “Cats”…since it is getting the most spectacular negative and cruel reviews since “Showgirls,” and maybe before that. “Exorcist II, The Heretic” perhaps. Oddly, the usually hyper-critical New York Times is not one of the worst defilers, but here was what the reviewer really found objectionable :

“It’s too bad that no one seems to have thought through the semiotics of Victoria’s chalky white cat face, given that Hayward is of mixed race and that the heavy is Idris Elba’s predatory Macavity. Elba seems to be having a fine time, but come on!”

Ah! The old “mixed-race actress in whiteface being menaced by a black actor playing a cat” racist imagery!

I can’t wait for them to write down these rules. Continue reading