Another 7-11 Encounter: There Is Hope.

yankees-vs-red-sox

For over a decade, a cynical, destructive, dangerous and—let’s see, is there another good adjective? Yes!— unethical strategy has been pursued to strip away all trust between the races, to use racial guilt for profit and power, to make black Americans fear and hate white Americans and to cause white Americans to resent their blacks neighbors. This is, disgracefully, a deliberate choice by elements in our society and politics in order to achieve power. It is an existential threat to the United States, our society and our culture, and has never been more so than now.

I was running an errand for Grace to the local 7-11. As I got out of my car, wearing a black #*&!@#!! mask, my path intersected with that of another man on the way to the convenience store. All I could see were his eyes and his skin-color (he was African-American), and the rest was attire: a New York Yankees cap and a Yankees team jacket. I was one up on him: I was wearing my Red Sox cap, a Boston team jacked AND my Red Sox canvas deck shoes.

The stranger, who appeared to be around my age, froze dramatically as we came face to face about ten feet apart, extended his arms, and exclaimed, “What is this, a beer ad?” and laughed. I replied, “I think it has to be!,” and he followed me into the store. We stopped a few feet inside the door, and talked for 20 minutes about baseball, our teams, various players, baseball ethics (steroids and cheating), and life. He was such a friendly, smart and funny guy; I loved talking with him. Then he gave me a fist bump, and we parted. I never even got his name.

There was nothing in our interaction that day that involved race or anything else contentious. We were just two human beings and citizens of the United States who have a lot more in common and a lot more to talk about together than group identities and conflict. The encounter reminded me that the bonds that unite us as a nation are still stronger and more resilient than the enemies of democracy think they are.

And as I got back into my car, the most famous quote from Anne Frank’s diary suddenly popped into my head: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Not all people, certainly, but just maybe enough of them.

There is hope.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/10/2021: Happy Birthday, Jimmy! [UPDATED!]

Jimmy Durante was born on this day in 1893 (“The Snozzola” died 87 years later, in 1980. He’s a semi-regular around here, because it’s Jimmy’s famous line from “Jumbo” (1935) (“Elephant? What elephant?”) that describes the Ethics Alarms offense of resolutely refusing to admit an ethic breach that cannot be denied.

My father was a lifetime admirer of Jimmy, and eventually I joined him: we had all of his albums, and as a stage director I often played his renditions of a ballad (like “I’ll Be Seeing You”) for singers to demonstrate the importance of phrasing and expression, both of which Durante excelled at despite having a distinctive but hardly euphonious voice. He also impressed me with his professionalism. When my father was handling marketing for a Boston banking association, he helped arrange for his organization to be one of the sponsors of Jimmy’s show, which came to the Prudential Center in Boston. The Snozz was over 70 then, but he always seemed ageless, and his energy in person was even more impressive than it was on TV (in fact, Durante had learned to tone down his enthusiasm on the small screen, because it became exhausting to watch). He made his entrance in the stage show rushing on from the wings while singing and flinging his fedora to the back of the stage, where it landed neatly on the head of his band’s bald drummer. My father managed to get our family backstage (though Jimmy was not available because he had a charity appearance right after the show) and I talked to the drummer. I asked him how often Jimmy landed the hat on his head. He replied, “He’s never missed.” He went on to say that his boss rehearsed that bit for hours every week and before every show. It was a split second grace note, but Jimmy insisted on doing it perfectly.

Durante had a stroke after a show when he was almost 80, and never fully recovered. My father, who was uncomfortable expressing emotion face to face but wrote beautiful and touching letters (I hated getting them because they always made me cry; still do), wrote Jimmy, who was then bedridden, a letter thanking him his long entertainment career and explained what his work had meant to Dad. Jimmy’s wife Margie wrote back to say she had read the letter to Jimmy, and he had mouthed the words “Thank you.”

1. Politicizing everything. UCLA’s star gymnast Nia Dennis is getting accolades for turning her floor routine into an ” exuberant and powerful celebration” of black culture. Says Slate, “This routine has everything. Dennis pays tribute to Colin Kaepernick (she kneels!), Tommie Smith and John Carlos (she raises a fist!), and Kamala Harris (like a soror, she strolls and she steps!).” That’s funny: the only way I would recognize a reference to Harris would be if Nia cackled and blathered nonsense. The routine is more dance than gymnastics, but it’s a diabolical gimmick (don’t blame Nia: she has a woke choreographer, Bjoya Das). Any judge that doesn’t give the routine the highest marks knows he or she will be cancelled as a virulent racist.

2. Then there’s the Jeep ad…I’m not going to bother with surveying the ethically dubious Super Bowl ads this year, since they all are unethical for supporting the NFL’s ongoing negligent homicide, but I can’t let Bruce Springsteen’s obnoxious Jeep ad pass. Here it is:

[Whoa! That video was pulled from YouTube shortly after I posted it! I also can’t find a link that has it.]

“To The ReUnited States Of America.” Right. Springsteen is hardly an honest advocate for “the middle,” as a vocal Democrat and anti-Trump shill. The country is supposedly “re-united” because a Democrat is President. The entire theme of the ad is a cynical exercise in Rationalization #64, “It isn’t what it is.” Donald Trump was “divisive” because Democrats decided to paint him as such. Enforcing immigration laws shouldn’t be divisive. Withdrawing from an unapproved treaty with no actual impact shouldn’t be divisive. Calling the biased news media what it is shouldn’t be divisive. Now, calling half the country racists , Nazis and morons IS divisive, and the party that just won control of Congress and the White House has been doing that for four years. Surveys show that that half of the country is more angry, alienated and distrustful than ever, and for some very good reasons, like the current unconstitutional impeachment trial. Got it, Bruce: when Republicans win a national election it’s divisive,and when Democrats win one, it’s unifying.

Update: Apparently Jeep has received so many complaints about Bruce that they decided it was a major gaffe. How can this happen? It happens when the entire company and its ad agency is so overloaded with Democrats and progressives that they can’t see what’s right in front of them.

Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month—But Funny!: The Biden Transition Team

Biden tw

Huh.

What am I missing here? Biden promised last week,

Biden Promise

Now, I could be wrong, but when you give “priority” to some groups of Americans over others, that doesn’t seem like being a President “for” all Americans to me. That sounds like bias, favoritism, and discrimination.

I know: objecting to white, male second class citizenship makes you a sexist white supremacist, but I just can’t reconcile these two tweets. Can you?

All facetiousness aside, I think this is hilarious. The Democrats don’t even think they have to try to make sense, be consistent or not blatantly lie. The arrogance is magnificent. They really think everyone is stupid. They need to read more Greek tragedy. Hubris kills, and the joke will very likely be on them.

From The Great Stupid: Ethics Dunce Michael Dempster, Brewer, Bigot [Corrected!]

Seattle-based brewer, Michael Dempster owns Mirage Brewery. In June, Mirage launched a brew  called “Choosey Lover.”  Dempster directed that every  can include a stamp that reads “ACAB means all cops.”

ACAB  is a very old anti-police acronym meaning “all cops are bastards.”

Dempster told KIRO 7 TV,

I used the markings because I stand against institutional racism, of which modern policing is a militarized arm…It’s not about individual police officers, it’s about a system. But I think to the casual observer, it seems like an attack on individual police officers, all cops.

Ah! So you’re a bigoted idiot, then! Thanks for the clarification! You say “all cops,” but you don’t mean all cops, though you acknowledge that the “casual observer,” meaning someone who can read and understand English, might think that by “all cops” you mean “all cops,” when you really just mean “the system.”

In short, you’re an idiot. Good to know. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The John Lewis Funeral

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  • As I noted here before, Lewis’s reputation as the “conscience of Congress” was undeserved, unless it’s a matter of conscience to be hyper-partisan and a constant source of racial division.
  • Lewis began the process of isolating Donald Trump and denying him the basic respect any incoming President is owed and deserves by virtue of his election. He boycotted the inaugeration, taking the Confressional Black Caucus with him.

If Lewis were worthy of the exorbitant accolades heaped on his memory today and a true statesman, he would have reached out to the President, and used his stature in the black community to work with him. That would have benefited everyone. Instead, he decided to plant hate and fear, and cripple the President’s ability to lead.

  • The “resistance” and Democrats, with great assistance from the news media and such bitter and selfish individuals as the late John McCain, have effectively stolen the Presidents ability to fulfill the ceremonial component of the President’s job, what is supposed to be the unifying and non-political  part of it. Yet op-ed writers and news how panels have the gall to complain that Trump cannot rally the nation’s spirit during times of crisis, when they know he was never permitted to fulfill this role from the moment he was elected.

He could not attend Lewis’s funeral, of course, and because he could not, he was, once again, prevented from being being President. Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/11/2020: NBC’s Tipping Point, Joe’s Gaslighting, A Judge’s Dead Ethics Alarms, And Kroger’s Grandstanding Backfires

It’s May!

1. More thoughts on “Meet the Press” and Chuck Todd. Pause now to reflect on last night’s post on the “Meet the Press” cheat, leaving out the key portion of AG Barr’s answer to an interview question, then having anchor Chuck Todd criticize Barr for not saying what he in fact said and that he withheld from his audience.

  • Does anyone think NBC’s “oops!” apology after being called on this by CBS (from whence the original interview came) and Justice (in a tweet by Barr’s spokesperson) is credible? The only way one could believe this was accidental is to assume there are no standards of review and oversight in network news. With all the preparation that goes into a weekly show, how could the anchor not review the entire interview he is planning on discussing? True, Todd is uniquely stupid for an anchor, somewhere in the Chris Cuomo range, but applying Hanlon’s Razor here strains the rule. This was almost certainly malicious.
  • The example ought to be aggressively and relentlessly shared on social media, with enablers and apologists being dealt with harshly. (I just posted it on my Facebook page. I know what’s coming. To hell with them.) This is a smoking gun and signature significance: a journalism culture where this happens is corrupt and agenda-driven The episode also ought to be a tipping point where the public, all of it, wakes up to how it is being manipulated by propagandists. Note I say “ought” but not “will.”
  • For this reason, the episode isn’t just about news, it is news. It should be a headline on every news broadcast and in every newspaper. “Meet the Press,” even as diminished as it is, still holds a symbolic place in the industry. This is a scandal, and an important one.
  • Is it of greater national and historical importance than most of the items on my Times front page this morning? Absolutely.
  • To those who will argue that Todd’s cheat was an innocent mistake that conservatives, Republicans and “Trumpers” are “pouncing” on, I would ask, “Where is the parallel instance of an Obama official, a Democratic leader, or a progressive being similarly misquoted on a network news show?” The closest example I can recall was when NPR falsely edited an interview with…Ted Cruz.
  • The standard increasingly becoming the norm in the mainstream media is not “how can we inform our viewers?” but rather “how can we advance our agenda by manipulating the content and get away with it?” The latter begins with the assumption that their partisan and ignorant audiences will tolerate being deceived, and that is how democracies die.

2.  The point when I stopped reading Joe Biden’s op-ed in the Post:President Trump is reverting to a familiar strategy of deflecting blame and dividing Americans. His goal is as obvious as it is craven: He hopes to split the country into dueling camps…”

The reason shifting blame and dividing the country is a familiar strategy is that Biden’s party has been doing this continuously from the moment Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “deplorables.” Well, let’s reconsider that: maybe the strategy started when President Obama’s mouthpieces began using “racist!” as the default response to any criticism of him, and “xenophobe!” as the response to those wanting to enforce our borders. Either way, Biden’s attack ( or that of whoever wrote it for him while he was working on his coloring book) is gaslighting. Imagine anyone trying to divide Americans over public policy!

PS: Here’s an Atlantic article from a few days ago: “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying.”

Post Post Script: Why look! “Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, who teaches about microbial diseases and law at the Ivy League school, took to Twitter recently to slam the administration, saying:

“How many people will die this summer, before Election Day? What proportion of the deaths will be among African-Americans, Latinos, other people of color? This is getting awfully close to genocide by default. What else do you call mass death by public policy?”

3. In related news...Yesterday, Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms  called the shooting death of  black jogger Ahmaud Arbery “a lynching”and blamed President Trump. 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

The Sequel To The “It’s OK To Be White” Stickers: “Islam Is Right About Women” Flyers

In Winchester, Massachusetts (right next to my old home town of Arlington!)  flyers reading “Islam is RIGHT About Women” suddenly appeared around the town, fastened to trees, utility polls and street signs in the familiar manner of those “lost cat” notices.

An “alarmed” woman brought two flyers to the Winchester Police Department, and officers subsequently found eight more, including one that was posted outside of an elementary school. The flyer presented multiple dilemmas. Police said the signs were not threatening and considered free speech. But because they were placed on town property, the flyers technically violated town ordinances. Yet those lost cat flyers were always allowed to remain.

Some residents were adamant that the signs should come down: one who spoke to a local TV station, Jim Leary, said, “Putting signs up that make people feel uncomfortable is unfortunate, particularly in this time and age.”

Really? Sounds like you’re not too fond of free speech, Jim!

The police took the flyers down. Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh wrote, citing Members of the City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent (1984), that the content of the flyers’ message  is constitutionally protected, but that the city could take down the ones that violated town law  so long as it wasn’t discriminating based on the viewpoint of the signs.  But of course it was, since the lost cat flyers were never taken down.

What’s going on here? The Professor played dumb, writing, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, December 19, 2018: Facebook’s Lies, Hillary’s Letter, Harvard’s Defenders, And Kavanaugh’s Victory

Good Morning!

1. Open Forum today! As soon as this post is up, I’ll open a forum for readers here to raise their own suggestions for ethics topics and to offer their commentary without me getting in the way. The last one was a spectacular success, attracting over a hundred comments, generating many fascinating threads, and producing three Comments of the Day so far. Just keep the topics on ethics, don’t get distracted by tangents and bickering, and keep it civil.

The immediate motivation for today’s forum is that I have to prepare for and deliver an annual end of year ethics CLE seminar at the D.C. bar. If you’re in the vicinity and need the credits, or just want a lively ethics workout, come on by and say hello. Here are the details:

Date: December 19, 2018

Event start time :1:30 PMEvent end time:4:45 PM

Venue:D.C. Bar: 901 4th ST NW, Washington, DC 20001-2776

Credit: 3.0 Ethics Credit Hours, including 3 hours of professionalism for those states with such requirement.

Description: Widespread discord in our current culture places unusual stress on professional ethics, and unfortunately, the legal profession is not immune. The past year saw many legal professionals, including famous names in the law, make questionable decisions and breach legal ethics standards, providing both cautionary tales and fodder for analysis. This challenging and interactive class will explore important developments and looming perils that every lawyer should be ready to face.

Topics include:

• Direct adversity vs. “general adversity,” and whether it matters
• Sexual harassment as a legal ethics problem, and the profession’s vulnerability to “The King’s Pass”
• Defying a client for the client’s own good
• Fees, referrals and gaming the rules for fun and profit
• Professional responsibility vs. legal ethics
• The increasing threat to law firm independence and integrity
• The technology ethics earthquake

..and more!

Faculty: Jack Marshall, Pro Ethics Ltd.
Fee: $89 D.C. Bar Communities Members; $99 D.C. Bar Members; $109 Government Attorneys; $129 Others

2. Meanwhile, here are Facebook’s “standards”… As Ethics Alarms posts continue to be blocked on Facebook in various ways, including by “community standards” that for some reason reject the ethics of “Miracle on 34th Street,” the social media behemoth’s own standards are coming into focus: From CNBC: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness”

Yes, but you have to understand the context…

Well, that was embarrassing. The following epic comment on divisiveness was stuck on the tarmac for a few days, and then I compounded the indignity by quoting a lesser pundit on the same topic in the previous post. If it’s any consolation, Jonah Goldberg gets more web traffic than I do, too. There is no justice.

Here is Chris Marschner’s excellent Comment of the Day on “Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness: 

“Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division.”

No truer words were ever spoken.

On the anniversary weekend of the incident in Charlottesville the media hammered home the point that I am not worthy to live in their civil ideal society. Why do I interpret their coverage this way you may ask? Perhaps it is because I reject the notion that any person’s opinion should be silenced and I stand with those that reject the proposition that select populations should have the ropes of past injustice be perpetually hung around the necks of those that have neither the personal history, desire nor ability to economically discriminate or oppress anyone. I have no problem with refutations of opinions – I would encourage them – but my tolerance for those that suggest that only they have the right to determine what is good and proper is waning; especially in light that those people often cast wide nets in their sanctimony; which is no different than the behaviors of others they claim results in their oppression.

Why would many marginalize me for my belief that I simply do not believe that because one gender or race is in greater or fewer numbers relative to their overall population than another in a given population it is prima facie evidence of discrimination and bias. For if I did, I would have to believe that males are discriminated against in teaching positions within the primary and secondary grades, in most health occupations today, and within the administrative support positions in many public and private institutions. I would also have to believe that white sports team owners discriminate against whites because they are under-represented on most teams with the exception of perhaps hockey and soccer. Numbers in any occupation are a function of human choices and capabilities. Even if one feels fully capable of running a fortune 500 firm as the CEO, one’s choice is the primary gatekeeper because if one never applies to reach that goal then only those that do stand a chance.

Bias is only ever seen in others and not in themselves.

No group sees bias when deriving benefits of bias as a group. For example, women see no bias when they are treated as superior care-givers and thus courts favor them more frequently in child custody cases. No one sees the abject bias in the violence against women act. Why is that? What makes an assault on a woman worse than an assault on anyone for that matter? I might be able to see different charges based on differential physical stature but not on gender. Why not a violence against the frail and weaker act? I see no outcry from women and minorities when most of the SBA programs favor women and minorities even though the data show that they are creating more new businesses than their white male counterparts for almost the last twenty years. There are no special programs to increase male enrollment in post secondary education even when their numbers are being outpaced by female enrollment and graduations. No one is running to change the selective service rules that create lifetime bars to federal employment, education grants and other federal benefits for failure to register for the draft by age 26 even though women fought for the right to be in forward combat so that promotional opportunities can be afforded to them. Commerce department data show that women control 60 percent of the wealth in the U.S. and 80% of all Consumer spending. One can see the evidence of this in the thematic content in most mass media advertisements. Each of us sees bias through our own lens. Therefore, if a group of white men protest what they think is bias against them that is their right. We can reject or accept their arguments based on the facts presented. When we begin to go down the path of silencing critics we find objectionable we will lose the right to petition for redress of grievances.

Is there any wonder why a growing number of white males may feel less sympathetic to advancing the current notions of progressive policies when the noose of a legacy perpetrated by others is believed to be unfairly tightened around their necks today; which brings me back to Charlottesville. Continue reading