End Of Week Ethics Regrets, 5/14/2021: Trevor Noah’s Wit, The Yankees’ Great Vaccine Experience, And Other Puzzlements

regret

1. Baseball Ethics notes:

  • Ethics Heroes: The Houston Astros. When I forgive them for cheating their way to the 2017 World Championship, they might be worthy of a full post the next time they do something exemplary. The Astros are providing furnished apartments to minor-league players across all levels this season. According to The Athletic, they are  the only club doing this. Minor league players are obscenely underpaid, and have to find desperation lodging on salaries that aren’t much better than minimum wage. What the Astros are doing should be the industry standard. Is this an attempt by a bad actor to prove it has come into the light? Maybe. It’s still admirable.
  • In the category of “It isn’t what it is,” we have a bizarre statement from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankees have confirmed eight cases of the Wuhan virus this week, with shortstop Gleyber Torres  the first player to test positive. The other seven cases had been among the Yankees’ coaching and support staffs, including pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits. Something is clearly amiss, either in what the team has been doing or in the effectiveness of the Johnosn and Johnson  single shot vaccine, which is what the Yankees provided to the team. Cashman said, in a longer statement to the press,

“The one thing I take from this is I believe the vaccine is working. We can take great comfort, thankfully, that all who were vaccinated with the J&J, provided from two different states, the one batch in New York, the other batch in Florida, at various different times, one in March versus obviously earlier in April, we believe it has protected us from obviously something severe or something much more difficult to be handling than we currently are.”

Or, the fact that so many Yankees who were  “fully vaccinated” got the virus anyway might suggest that the vaccine involved isn’t that great. I would come to that conclusion before “the vaccine is working.” Baseball players are young, athletes, and as far removed from high risk as one could find. Before the vaccine, only one player who contracted the virus last season became seriously ill, and that was from aside effect of the illness rather than the illness itself.

2. Explain those rules again for me, please? In today’s Arts section of the New York Times, we have this note:

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Now THAT Was A Stupid Lie!

caitlyn-jenner

Ah, memories! On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I had a feature called the David Manning Liar of the Month. From the description:

David Manning was an imaginary movie reviewer that Sony quoted when one of its movies was so lousy no real movie reviewer would praise it. When this long-running public fraud was brought to Sony’s attention, the company’s response was, in effect, “So who believes movie reviews?” Thus Sony’s phony critic and the company’s cynical defense of him stand for the dubious proposition that as long as your self-serving lie is in a trivial arena (usually entertainment) where dishonesty and misrepresentation are commonplace, or is a lie that nobody believes, it isn’t reprehensible. The fact is that these casual, obvious or trivial lies and the liars who spread them (almost always for profit) further degrade the value of honesty in American society, and pave the way for more destructive lies and liars waiting in the wings. All public deception is harmful, so The Ethics Scoreboard regularly recognizes The David Manning Liars of the Month, and urges the public to make them come clean…

Thus it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling, like finding an old toy, to read that Caitlyn Jenner, running for governor of California to revive her flagging celebrity now that the Kardashian gig is over, issued a completely pointless lie that was bound to be discovered.

CNN’s Dana Bash asked Jenner if the transgender former Olympic champions had voted for for Donald Trump in last year’s election.

“I didn’t even vote,” Jenner replied. “Out here in California, it’s like, why vote for a Republican president? It’s just not going to work. I mean, it’s overwhelming. It was voting day, and I thought, the only thing out here in California that I worry about, which affects people, is the propositions that were out there. And I didn’t see any propositions that I really had one side or the other. And so it was Election Day. And I just couldn’t get excited about it. And I just wound up going to play golf and I said, eh, I’m not doing that.”

But the record showed that she did vote. It was easy to check. Writes Politico, “Her claim to be a non-voter in that seminal 2020 election was baffling for a gubernatorial candidate trying to establish her political credibility, especially since records show she did participate in the contest.”

It’s not baffling. It’s typical: a disturbing number of Americans, especially celebrities and politicians, believe that lying is no big deal, so they don’t think being caught in obvious lies damages their reputation. Their attitude is “Hey, it’s worth a shot!” When they are caught, their reaction is, “Whatever.”

The disturbing thing is that they may be right.

Senator Hawley’s Futile Protest Prompts A Senator And A Corporation To Expose Their Ethics Deficits

Secretary Mnuchin Testifies In Senate Hearing On CARES Act Implementation

Well, that’s something.

GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced yesterday that he would object to Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results on January 6 as “an effort to highlight the failure” of states “to follow their own election laws as well as the unprecedented interference of Big Tech monopolies in the election.” “Millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard,” he said in a statement. “I will object on Jan. 6 on their behalf.”

In other words, this is symbolic political theater, nothing more, nothing less. The Constitution requires that challenges to the certification process, which are completely legal, be approved by majorities in both the House and Senate. That;s not going to happen, obviously, and Hawley’s statement makes that clear.

And yet here is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose status as a favorite of my Democrats friends among the contenders for the Presidential nomination highlighted just how awful that field was, tweeted this:

“This is how you run for President on the Republican side in 2024. You join a coup attempt. Democracy will prevail. As lead Dem on Rules Committee, I will guarantee it. There’s a bipartisan group of electeds who will put our country first. See you on the 6th!”

That’s pretty shameless coming from a Democrat whose party tried one soft coup attempt after another since 2016, including a contrived impeachment without evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and a relentless investigation designed to undermine trust and support of the President. Then there’s the fact, revealed in the New York Times, that in the last three decades, every time a Republican won the election, Democrats in Congress challenged the certification of that election, and when a Democrat won the Presidency, Congressional Republicans did not challenge the certification. Does Klobuchar believe that her party attempted coups in 2000, 2004 and 2016? She’s deliberately mischaracterizing Hawley’s action, but then that’s Amy.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/2/18: Dictators, Wizards, Liars and Abusers [Updated]

Good morning!

1 Housekeeping matters. For some reason, I know not what, there was an outbreak of contentious discussion regarding Ethics Alarms administration in a couple of threads yesterday. I think everything covered or complained about is covered in the Comment Policies above, but just for the record:

  • I handle the moderation here. Only me.
  • Though it might appear otherwise to some, I do not spend my day glued to Ethics Alarms. Thus on days like yesterday, when I had an early morning CLE session to teach in D.C., followed by one  law firm client emergency after another, I did not see any comments at all from 1am to 6 pm. Thus the hysterical and indignant “Why did you delete my comment?” outbursts and the “How dare you allow that rude comment to stay on the site?” and the ultimata springing therefrom were especially silly, unfair, and ill-informed.
  • I am not your Moderation Monkey. Don’t command me on how to police my own site. Thank you.
  • As I have written many times, occasionally a comment from an approved participant gets spammed for no good reason. Sometimes WordPress, for no apparent provocation, starts spamming the comments of visitors here who have been commenting for years. Sometimes such commenters have had to change their screen names as a result. None of this has anything to do with me: I can’t control it, or predict it. The calm, reasonable commenters faced with this crisis generally e-mail me, then I search the spam archives, find the lost post, send it to moderation, and approve it.
  • I do not delete posts from approved commenters. The exception is when I ban a commenter permanently, or give one a time out, which is a temporary ban or suspension, in which case the commenter is always warned in advance.
  • I expect discourse here to be civil, but will excuse momentary and periodic lapses and outbursts from veteran commenters (and me, of course), in direct proportion to their time here, level of participation and constructive value to the mission. Individual quirks will also be taken into consideration.

2. Remembering the David Manning Liar of the Month: A commenter who hails from the old Ethics Scoreboard days recently referenced the feature there called the David Manning Liar of the Month. A David Manning-style lie is a statement that the speaker or writer can’t possibly expect anyone to  believe, thus raising the question of whether it is a lie at all. (Sony spawned the award by excusing its use of a fake film reviewer it named David Manning to rave about terrible movies in ads,  claiming that nobody believed such excerpts anyway.) If Ethics Alarms had the same feature, President Trump would obviously dominate it, as I was reminded this morning. The President’s ex-physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein. bitter over his ejection from the Trump Court, revealed that Trump himself had dictated the absurd letter in which the doctor attested, Continue reading

Follow-Up On “Lying Donald vs. Lying Hillary”: Donald’s Lie Is Worse, And Here’s Why

Lie vs Lie

Yesterday I asked readers which of our “presumptive” Presidential candidates were revealed as the worst liars  last week: Hillary Clinton, whose stubborn, year long claims that she followed State Department policy in handling communications, that she turned over all of her official emails to State, and that she “never sent classified material on my email, and I never received any that was marked classified” were all shown to be false by new emails that were released to the media, or Donald Trump, who denied that he had pretended to be his own publicist in recorded phone calls unearthed by the Washington Post, despite the fact that he had previously admitted as much in court testimony under oath.

I learned several useful things from the poll results:

1. Most readers don’t bother to take polls. 

2. Clinton’s lie is overwhelmingly believed to be worse, and

3. I measure lies very differently from most people.

To me, the worst lie is the brazen denial of what cannot be denied, done so shamelessly that it sends the message is no big deal. On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I highlighted such lies as a regular feature called the David Manning Liar Of The Month, named after a now forgotten incident when Sony was caught using fake rave reviews from a made-up film critic on its ads for some really bad movies. Sony’s excuse was that since everybody knows those reviews in movie ads are unreliable, there was nothing wrong with using a fake review. Another version of the lies I hate are those labelled Jumbos on Ethics Alarms, the infamous and often funny “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” desperation excuses, like Lindsay Lohan’s “These aren’t my pants!” explanation when arresting officers found drugs in her pockets. Continue reading