Tag Archives: courage

Ethics Dunce Hillary’s George Costanza Moment

In “The Comeback,” a much admired “Seinfeld” episode, George Costanza obsesses over the fact he missed what he is sure was the perfect comeback when a colleague at a staff lunch, watching him gluttonize a bowl of shrimp, quipped that “George, the Ocean called, and they’re out of shrimp!” George wishes he had said, “Yeah? Well, the jerk store called, they’re running out of you!” The problem is that much success in life is based on timing. If you miss your moment, it’s gone, and coming back later to explain that you had the perfect response and didn’t use it is trolling for sympathy, when you don’t deserve any.

Now Hillary Clinton, in her post-Presidential-run botch excuse tour, is channeling George as she muses about whether she missed the perfect comeback when, she says, Donald Trump was “invading her space” during the town meeting style debate.

In an audio clip to promote her upcoming book (above), Clinton reads the section in which she recounts her thoughts as she claims she considered telling her Republican adversary to “back up, you creep” as he roamed the stage behind her during the second presidential debate.

“My skin crawled,” Clinton reads. “It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching ‘well, what would you do?'” Just two days before, Clinton says, “the world heard [him] brag about groping women.” She says she decided against telling Trump to “back up, you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me,” and instead gripped the microphone “extra hard.”  Now she wonders if she made the right choice.

Hey Hillary, the loser store called, and it’s out of you! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

An Epic And Unexpected Example Of How The Right Thing To Do Is To Undo A Bad Decision As Soon As You Realize that It Was A Mistake, And Not Worry About How Anyone Reacts, Who Says “I Told You So!”, Who Says You Shouldn’t Have Made The Mistake In The First Place, Or How Much You Are Tempted To Try To Make The Original Bad Decision Work Out Despite Knowing Deep In Your Heart That It Never Will…

I am referring, of course, to President Donald Trump firing Anthony Scaramucci as his Communications Director today.

For the first time, President Trump has given future Presidents a positive role model to emulate. Almost no Presidents, indeed, almost no executives anywhere,  have the guts and competence to do this. Of course, I don’t know if any President has made as unbelievably bad an appointment before. Lincoln appointing George McClellan as his top general for the second time comes close.

Donald Trump seldom admits mistakes. There is no other way to interpret this stunning act (I first saw it in a comment on Ethics Alarms, and I thought it was satire), no matter what the President says, other than “I screwed up big time, and I had to fix it.” Neither Obama, nor Clinton, nor either Bush, nor Reagan were ever willing to do this hardest and most humbling of management acts.

Apparently General Kelly told the President that “Mooch” had to go, and he went. This is excellent news on multiple fronts. I assumed that Kelly would eventually demand loose-cannon Scaramucci’s head—it was so, so obvious that he was a walking, talking pathogen in an already sick White House culture. I did not think Kelly would act so quickly. This speaks very well for him: Davy Crockett would have approved too. Davy’s ethics formula was “Be sure you are right, and then go ahead.” Kelly was sure, and saw no reason to wait. There was none. Every second Scaramucci remained wild and free was a second closer to the next crisis.

It is also a wonderful sign that the President took his new Chief of Staff’s advice. Wow. I now have hope that he may be persuaded to give up stream-of-consciousness tweeting.

We can use this event as yet another test to assess just how biased various pundits are.  How many will have the integrity to say, as I do, that firing a Scaramucci as soon as possible is a competent and courageous example of good management, even if it was made imperative by the President’s own  head-explodingly terrible, incompetent and irresponsible decision?  My guess is very few. What they want to do is bash Donald Trump, and this certainly gives them ammunition.

I would ask them this, however: how often have you hesitated to admit a mistake and fix it, waiting and hoping that somehow it would work out, only having to fix the problem later after the predictable catastrophe occurred? And you weren’t doing this in front of the whole nation, with a pack of hateful journalists just waiting to heap ridicule and abuse on you for doing the right thing?

President Trump deserves praise for this. And if his example is followed by managers everywhere, it will be a better world in too many ways to count.

[I thought this was over-kill, however…]

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/21/17

Good Morning!

1. There was one of those moments in a Major League Baseball game yesterday that teaches life lessons in character, and ethics for anyone who is paying attention.

The Boston Red Sox were playing the Toronto Blue Jays in an afternoon game at Fenway Park. Boston led 3-1 in the second inning, but the Red Sox pitcher,  veteran Doug Fister, was struggling with an uncharacteristic control lapse: he walked his third batter in the inning, and also had given up a couple of hard-hit balls that suggested that a gaggle of runs and a blown lead were inevitable. Then, mirabile dictu, Fister caught a break. The next Toronto batter swung mightily and lofted an easy, lazy pop-up to the infield. If there had been one out rather than two, it would have been called an automatic out under the Infield Fly Rule. Everyone, including Fister, who is fighting to preserve his spot on the Sox roster as well as his flagging career, breathed a sigh of relief. The Toronto batter slammed his bat to the ground. Settling under a pop-up not any more difficult than those he had successfully caught as a Little Leaguer was Red Sox utility man Brock Holt, a second baseman this day. He is much admired for his versatility, energy and reliability. Holt is also trying to revive his career after a frightening, season-long battle with vertigo, as well as to show the team that he can fill a yawning void at third base.

Holt dropped the ball. It bounced off his glove, as the Toronto baserunners were charging around the bases at the crack of the bat, since there were already two outs. Two of them scored, and later two more after Fister surrendered hits in te lengthened inning, making the bounty bestowed by Holt’s muff four runs. Fister was soon out of the game, and was charged with his team’s eventual two-run loss by an 8-6 score. (Today’s headline in Boston: “Doug Fister’s Future As Starter Uncertain After Loss To Jays”).

Yet Fister never shot an angry glance at Holt. He’s played the game; he knows how mistakes and random bad luck can turn everything around in an instant. He probably has dropped a similar ball in a crucial situation: I know I’ve done it, at second base, losing a company soft-ball game. Holt trotted to the dugout, got supportive pats on the back and fanny from his team mates, and played the rest of the game with his head high and his skills on display. There is no doubt that he felt terribly about the play, but Holt  didn’t hide under a rock, rend his garments, or make a big display of anger and frustration to signal to the hometown crowd—which didn’t boo or jeer him at any point in the game.

That’s life, as my father used to say, and this is how ethical people handle life. Disaster strikes out of a confluence of factors (a very bright sun undoubtedly helped Holt miss the ball, but professional ballplayers learn to cope with the sun) and all we can do, if we are competent at life as well as fair, responsible and brave, is to accept responsibility, not make excuses, and not allow such events to diminish or destroy us. Both Fister and Holt displayed the character necessary to do that. Neither blamed the other, and no one blamed them. Tomorrow is another day.

Play Ball!

2. Professional troll Ann Coulter is having a public spat with Delta Airlines that reflects badly on both of them. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Professions, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

Integrity Check For Senator McCain

Arizona Senator John McCain, a long-time leader of the Republican Party and a bona fide old lion of the U.S. Senate, has been diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant form of brain cancer. Surgeons removed the tumor this week, but the Vietnam war hero and former Presidential candidate knows he is facing the fight of his life. This kind of tumor tends to come back, so McCain’s treatment has to be as aggressive as the cancer.

The unavoidable truth is that Senator McCain has an ethical obligation to resign, and the sooner the better. Members of Congress, like Supreme Court Justices, should not drag their tenure into advanced age, when health, energy and mental acuity are likely to decline. McCain, who is 80, has shown unusual vigor as he has aged, but it is absurd to  imagine that he can do his job while undergoing life-and-death cancer treatments. For his own sake, that of his party, the institution of the Senate, his nation and his legacy, Senator McCain needs to be an exemplar to his colleagues and future elected officials who have the public’s trust. It is a time for him to model sacrifice, selflessness, humility and good judgment.

There is important work to be done, and if it is to be done well, men and women of health and focus must be the ones to do it. John McCain is an amazing and honorable man who doesn’t have to prove his mettle and fortitude to anyone. Now he has to have the courage and integrity to do the hardest thing of all: to know when to quit, and to do it.

I’m betting that he will. John McCain knows how to be a hero.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine

The Unappreciated Home Depot Hero

It’s more exciting than you think!

Ethics Alarms has dealt with this issue multiple times: an employee violates policy by intervening to prevent a crime or serious injury, and is fired for it.  In 2009, a bank teller named Jim Nicholson turned Batman and foiled a bank robbery, then was fired.. A would-be robber had pushed a black backpack across the bank counter to Nicholson and demanded money. The teller threw the bag to the floor, lunged toward the man and demanded to see a weapon. The robber sprinted for the door with Nicholson in pursuit. Eventually Bat-Teller  knocked the man  to the ground and held him until the police arrived.

The bank had to fire him. The episode could have gone wrong many ways, some resulting in bank customers and employees being injured or killed. Law enforcement repeatedly cautions against such conduct, and the bank’s policies were clear.

In other cases, no-tolerance makes no sense, as no-tolerance often does. In 2012, Ryan Young, then working in the meat department of a Safeway grocery store in Del Rey Oaks, California, witnessed a man beating a pregnant woman, apparently his girlfriend. Young told the man to stop, but when he continued with his assault, shoving and kicking her, Young jumped over his counter, pushed the thug away, and ended the attack.

Safeway fired him. So what would it have had Young do, stand there and wag his finger? This crossed into duty to rescue territory. Young did the right thing, and rather than blindly following a policy that didn’t fit the facts, Safeway should have realized that an exception was called for.. (Eventually public opinion and bad publicity forced Safeway to re-hire the hero). A similar scenario involved a lifeguard who violated his employer’s policy by saving a drowning man off a beach adjacent to the property where he was stationed. Jeff Ellis Management, an Orlando, Florida-based company, fired  21-year-old Tomas Lopez for daring to save a life pro bono, and was similarly pilloried by public opinion. Two lifeguards quit in support of Lopez, and he was also eventually offered his job back. Lopez told Jeff Ellis Management to get bent, or words to that effect. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, War and the Military, Workplace

Observations On That Disturbing Trump Cabinet Meeting

Yesterday’s weird, televised segment of the Cabinet meeting was troubling in many ways. If you missed it, and I am envious if you did because it will haunt my nightmares for a long time, here is what happened:

Trump began by giving a positive assessment of his first 143 days and said,”Never has there been a President….with few exceptions…who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than I have.” Bad start. Trump, in fact, has signed very few bills. “Never—with few exceptions”—is classic Trump-speak, aka gibberish. This is also the kind of statement Trump’s Furies call “lies.” This was not a lie. In some convoluted way, the President thinks its sort of true. THAT’S the problem, not that he’s lying.

This was just the appetizer, though. The full course was the Cabinet officials, one by one, around the table, taking turns praising their boss.  This could not have been spontaneous. It reminded me of “King Lear”s” opening when the old, fading monarch requires each of his three daughters to tell him how much they love him as the price for getting a piece of his kingdom.

The charade began with Vice President Pence, who called it the “greatest privilege of my life” to serve in the Trump administration. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was an “honor” to serve Trump, and the rest of Trump’s Cabinet more or less aped what Pence or Sessions had said. Maybe they had all been given talking points. As a final inducement to projectile vomiting, Lackey-in-Chief Reince Priebus gave us a suck-up for the ages:

“On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people And we’re continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals.”

And may I fellate you here, sir, or later?

Disgusted and depressed observations:

1. This is exactly the kind of self-destructive fiasco  a top Chief of Staff who has a proven record running successful government operations on the state or national level could and would prevent. Instead, Trump has a Chief of Staff who actively made it worse. In February, Ethics Alarms featured my post calling for the appointment of such a figure as “the single most ethical thing President Trump could do.” That was four months ago, and this is more desperately needed now than ever.

2. Since this horrible display did happen, we now can say with certainty that none of the President’s inner circle has the influence, guts or common sense to stop him when he yields to his worst instincts.

3. We can also conclude that not a single member of the President’s Cabinet possesses  sufficient integrity, courage, principle or self respect to be trusted by the American public. These are billionaires and generals, and not one said to Trump, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but this will make you look weak and me look like an ass-kissing yes-man. I won’t do it, nor will I remain in a Cabinet stocked with lapdog sycophants who would debase themselves and their high offices by doing it.  Do you discard this idiotic charade, or do I resign now?”

Shame on them, every one. Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Lindsey Bittorf

I regard people who contribute kidneys to near strangers as residing in a special category of Ethics Hero, in the exemplary ethics category….maybe the exemplary exemplary ethics category.  Considering Don Bedwell, the first individual I learned about who  engaged in this extraordinary act of sacrifice, kindness, and compassion,  I began my 2005 post, “There are special and rare people whose ethical instincts are so pure and keen that they can make the rest of us feel inadequate.”  Bedwell, a traveling businessman, donated his kidney to a waitress who often served him at his favorite Cleveland restaurant when he was passing through the city on business. The second altruistic organ donor was East Haven, Connecticut  Mayor April Capone Almon, who gifted one of her kidneys  to a desperate constituent she barely knew.

Wisconsin police officer Lindsey Bittorf is the most recent example of this special breed of ethics hero.  She saw a Facebook post from a local mother pleading for someone to rescue might  her  8-year-old son, Jackson Arneson, who needed a kidney. The boy’s family and friends had been tested and none were a match. Bittorf didn’t know the child or the family, but got herself tested on a whim. Doctors told her she was an unusually good match,considering that she was not related to the boy.

Last week, Bittorf  rang the doorbell at Jackson’s home to surprise his family with the good news,  ABC News reported. Jackson could have one of her healthy kidneys.The police officer told Jackson’s mom, Kristi Goll, that it was an “early Mother’s Day gift.”  That’s a bit better than flowers, you’ll have to admit. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement