Tag Archives: “everybody does it”

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/17: Hybrid Topics! CNN, Hillary, DACA And More…

Good morning, all.

1 The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative non-profit public interest group that focuses particularly on voting issues, claims to have data suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in New Hampshire in the 2016 election—about 2,700 votes gave her the state—may have been achieved by fraud. A study showed that more than 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used the state’s same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote.  The current New Hampshire speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day. Most of them are no longer in the Granite State. Only 1,014 have ever obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Of the 5,526 voters who have not, just 3% have registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.  70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID to vote in the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire and to utilize same-day registration.

All of which suggests that it would be prudent if a group other than a right-wing advocacy organization did an unbiased and objective study.  Since Democrats won several top races last year along thin margins, notably Maggie Hassan defeating Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate race by 1,017 votes, some Republicans are claiming that out-of-state voters illegitimately tilted the election. Of course, for all anyone knows, the same-day voters may have voted Republican. The episode does compel three conclusions:

  • Same day registration is a recipe for chicanery. I am suspicious of any elected official or activist who supports it.
  • The Democratic/ mainstream media cant that there is no voter fraud is incredible on its face, and manifestly dishonest.
  • The nation’s lack of eager, objective investigators without partisan agendas is crippling. I don’t believe what conservative sources and pundits conclude about the New Hampshire vote, and I find the lack of interest the liberal national mainstream news media seems to have in the story— on Google, I see New Hampshire sources and conservative sources like Breitbart, BizPac, Fox and the Washington Times—gives the story more credibility, not less.

2. For those who are still having trouble accepting that the DACA was an illegal measure as executed by President Obama, I highly recommend the article by Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who explains why he regarded it as “a flagrantly legislative act by President Barack Obama.”  So did I, but he’s a legal scholar and I’m just a lawyer. From an ethics perspective, my area of expertise, I’m still disturbed at the attitude of the supporters of this Obama’s end-around the Constitution (and others). which can be summarized as, “Let’s see if we can get away with it, because we like the results.” It translates into “the ends justifies the means,” and epitomizes the drift of the Left toward totalitarian methods and philosophy. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, Sports

The Trustworthy New York Times, Whose Editors Don’t Read Their Own Paper

I was stunned when the New York Times, after a Bernie Sanders supporter engineered a sniper attack on a group of Republican Congressmen (Steve Scalise is still hospitalized) published an editorial including the “everybody does it” argument that Republican rheteric had activated madmen too, reminding readers that there had been a  “clear” and “direct” causal connection between Palin’s PAC’s “targeting” of Gabrielle Giffords’ district and Jared Loughner’s murder of six people in Tucson. How could they be dredging up this old smear again, after it had been so thoroughly debunked? It seemed like a desperate, vicious deflection.

The  theory had caused an extended and heated debate at the time of the Tucson attack, with left-biased media pundits, including the Times’ Paul Krugman and others, attempting to silence conservatives by arguing that their harsh “eliminationist rhetoric” had put Gifford in the crosshairs, literally. The Left’s prime scapegoats for the shootings were the most vocal conservative  critics  of President Obama and the Democrats at the time, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.The smear was transparent and dishonest; eventually even President Obama rejected it in the best speech of his tenure as President. It was also quickly disproven by the facts. Loughner, if anything, was a progressive lunatic. His written rants suggested no influence by the Right at all, and certainly no indication that Palin’s use of a crosshairs graphic to indicate Democrats “targeted” for defeat at the ballot box had even been seen by the killer, much less set him on his murderous path.

The revived lie was taken down online within a day, though not before the Times’s rival for the title of  “Parper Most Willing To Devastate Its Reputation To Destroy Donald Trump” issued a merciless ‘factcheck.”  The falsehod was also put into print. Several lawyers suggested that Palin had grounds for a defamation lawsuit, even though, as a public figure, prevailing in a lawsuit would require her to prove “actual malice.” Palin did sue.  Sure enough, The Times is denying malice by arguing that it made an “honest mistake.” But how could it be an honest mistake, when the Times itself had published reporting that finally proved Loughner was no devotee of Palin or Limbaugh.

For the Times editors to claim they made an honest mistake, they must insist that they were unaware of what had been prominently published in their own newspaper, under their own oversight. Sure, that’s certainly the kind of professionalism, competence and care one expects from the flagship of American journalism. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/3/17

Baaaaad Morning for me, GOOD MORNING to you, I hope.

1.  The New York Times, I thought, has an unusually fair story on the two phantom Trump phone calls that roiled “the resistance” yesterday. The President had said that he had received “calls” from the President of Mexico and the Boy Scout leadership, the former to salute him for getting tough at the border and the other to praise his controversial remarks at the annual Jamboree. There were no such calls, as the Mexico and the BSA had strongly suggested, and the White House confirmed this yesterday. In its piece this morning, the Times included a germane quote from pre-politics Trump in his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal”:

“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

Germane, except that we already know that he thinks this way—and I don’t think referring to a conversation (in the case of Mexico) or multiple members of the Boy Scouts leadership”praising his speech in person after he was done (“Nice job!” “Great speech!” “The boys really appreciated it!”) as phone calls qualifies as “hyperbole,” truthful or otherwise.

These are examples of the President’s well-established addiction to speaking in word clouds and approximations. He “saw” (well, maybe not literally) “thousands of Muslims” (Okay, maybe he didn’t see them, but they were there! ) celebrating the doom of the Twin Towers in New Jersey. He never supported the Iraq invasion (saying otherwise to Howard Stern doesn’t count). Now add the hundreds of others we either discussed here or that were flashpoints during the campaign. The President’s attitude toward these little and large imprecisions of language has been, apparently since childhood, “Whatever.” He really doesn’t think they matter, because to him the difference between, for example, “calls” and other communications doesn’t matter.

It’s a terrible habit. It undermines his credibility. It weakens his ability to persuade and lead. It makes him look foolish, careless and stupid, and shows a lack of discipline. It gives his intractable foes easy bullets to shoot at him. It’s also an established trait, at this point. This is, again, the Julie Principle. This is how he is, and both his supporters and detractors know it. What  is accomplished by treating each new example as a major scandal? “Well, you can’t just let him get away with it!” is the reply.

He doesn’t get away with it. It undermines his credibility. It weaken his ability to persuade and lead. It makes him look foolish,  careless and stupid, and shows a lack of discipline.

2. The Times seems to make a mild “everybody does it” excuse for the President, citing the examples of two Presidents the Times also hated, LBJ and Reagan, mostly Reagan. “It is hardly unprecedented for a president to use a story to inspire or motivate, or to embellish a yarn for the sake of punctuating a poignant message,” the Times says. Then it recounts this: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Workplace

The Unethical Fine Print Game

I am on record as believing that lawyers who intentionally assist their clients in burying unconscionable, unenforceable or unfair terms in standard contracts, usually in fine print, are unethical, and engaging in a professional violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. I’ve offered several seminar hypotheticals on the topic to make my point, and have never encountered a lawyer who had a good defense for the practice. Usually the best they can come up with is “everybody does it” or “but it’s legal!” Of course, the bar associations are on their side, not mine, because, well, everybody does it. That’s a proverbial can of worms the bar associations don’t have the guts or integrity to open. What else could it be but unethical, however, when a client company says, “Make sure you bury this provision saying that they have no recourse if we cheat them in the fine print!” and the lawyer says, “But that’s unenforceable!” and the client says, “Yeah, but they won’t read it before signing, and when we point out that they did agree to it, maybe it will scare them off,”  and the lawyer shrugs and says, “Whatever you say! It’s your contract”?

WiFi companies are especially egregious in this regard. As an effort to show itself as above the field and avoiding the unethical industry practice, a British WiFi company, Purple, ran  a social science experiment, inserting language in its standard contract that obligated consumers to clean toilets at festivals and clear sewer blockages.  22,000 people signed up anyway. The contract stated–in fine print—that its signatories would be legally required to perform 1000 hours of community service, including, but not limited to, “cleaning toilets at festivals, scraping chewing gum off the streets” and “manually relieving sewer blockages.”

The gag clause was inserted in the company’s terms and conditions for a period of two weeks, “to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free WiFi .” Purple also offered a prize to anyone who actually read the terms and conditions, and found the “community service clause.” Only one person won it. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/17/17 [UPDATED]

Good morning, everyone!

1. President Trump is upset about an ABC-Washington Post poll that among other things indicates that 70% of those polled believe that he has acted “un-Presidential” since being elected. Several analysts have suggested that pollsters have slanted their polling pools toward Democrats (remember the election?), but my question regarding this poll is, “What the hell is the matter with the other 30%?”

How in the world could anyone conscious argue that Trump is “Presidential,” other than on the rather technical basis that since he’s President, what he does is by definition Presidential? It would be mighty nice if an aide, a Cabinet member, a daughter, a White House chef or someone would explain this to him, but I’m convinced: he doesn’t get it, he won’t get it, and what weve  seen is what we’ll continue to get.

2. ALERT! The forgoing was written after I was fooled by a fake news site, aided and abetted by Instapundit, which either was also fooled or linked to the site as its own joke.  Thanks to reader Tom Adams for being  more alert than I was and quickly flagging this.

And by the way, screw them. I’m taking off the link, and I will probably give the site an Unethical Website designation. The only hint that the site is a hoax site is the other stories (“GOP Adopts Christie’s Sad, Bewildered Face As New Party Mascot”), but I read dozens of stories every day, and if i stopped to check all the other boxed and highlighted pieces I would never have time to do my job. There is nothing on the home page designating the site as satirical. Unethical.

I apologize to anyone I led astray. Somebody alert Instapundit. I’m not speaking to it.  Here was the original post…

That said and mournfully accepted, he won, he’s President, and the fevered efforts to somehow turn back time (I would not be surprised to see a new Bon Jovi Direct TV ad on the subject)  by “the resistance,” the Democrats and the news media are profoundly anti-democratic. This is what Jake Tapper was alluding last week with his tongue stuck so firmly in his cheek that it almost broke through his face. “The conspiracy goes much deeper than anyone expected,” Jake Tapper said on his news segment “The Lead.” “We’re talking tens of millions of people involved in this secret plot to make sure Hillary didn’t make it into the White House and to prop up Donald Trump as the winner….It’s far more sinister than we thought.”

Yes, some conservative websites and others took Tapper’s pointed gag seriously. This tells us…

…how little trust CNN has left with many Americans..

…how dumb a lot of conservatives are…

…why broadcast news hosts and reporters, even fair and clever ones like Tapper, should avoid sarcasm, satire, or facetious statements, and stick to the facts.

…Jake Tapper should get away from CNN before its toxic culture ruins his reputation. Continue reading

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The Twittercide Of David Leavitt

A fatal terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert? Funny!

Social media and multiple popular blogs and websites are flaming with hate directed at David Leavitt, a freelance writer who didn’t get his annual ethics alarms maintenance performed and is now paying the price. Perceiving himself as a mad wag,  Leavitt took to Twitter for some levity following the horrifying event described in this lead from the BBC:

“Twenty-two people, including an eight-year-old girl, have been killed and 59 were injured in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena, at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.”

Let me rephrase what I wrote before: Leavitt’s ethics alarms were not merely badly serviced, they had fallen apart into rusty chunks. He also hadn’t been paying attention to the world around him: did he miss the fate of Justine Sacco, who tweeted a joke to her friends that the cyber-mob decided was racist (though it wasn’t) as she boarded a plane, and by the time she had landed found that she had lost her job and become a national pariah? Had he not noticed that the Aflac duck had a different quack in 2011 after comic Gilbert Gottfried tweeted a series of jokes about the tsunami that devastated Japan and was promptly fired from what Gottfried had called the greatest gig in the world?

Either he had been practicing his craft (“Freelance Writer. CBS, AXS, Yahoo!, Examiner, & etc. I review #Games #Tech #Fashion #Travel. Casual #MTG #Twitch streamer”) from a cave, or he is an idiot, but in either case, he decided to tweet this…

then this…

Somebody apparently grabbed Leavitt and shook him hard (but not hard enough) as his tweets went viral and he was on the way to becoming the latest Justine. A few hours later he tweeted “Too soon?” and this apology:

Too late. HisCBS PR disowned him;  AXS sent his contribution down the memory hole; so did Yahoo. Boston’s WBZ, which had employed Leavitt, issued a statement condemning his jokes and saying that he was not an employee. Publications like Mother Jones, the New York Daily News,  Heat Street and The Daily Mail had placed essays attacking him on their websites. The reaction by British websites and news organization was even more intense. David Leavitt can forget about vacationing in the United Kingdom. Ever.

Observations:

1.  Nobody deserves to have their life destroyed over two tweets. Let me quote at length what I wrote about the Justine Sacco’s cyber mob, because it applies with equal force to Leavitt: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Humor and Satire, Social Media, U.S. Society, Workplace

Baseball’s Childish Ethics: An Embarrassing Case Study

It is often said that baseball is a child’s game, but that doesn’t excuse professional baseball players holding on to childish traditions regarding the “right way to play the game” that are not right, frequently dangerous, and mind-numbingly stupid to boot.

Last week, beginning a weekend series in Baltimore, the Boston Red Sox were enmeshed in a close game., losing 2-0, with time running out. With the Orioles batting and Manny Machado (Non-baseball fans: he is the very young, very large, very talented O’s third-baseman, a joy to watch and already a super-star) on first, Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded a slowly bouncing ground ball and flipped a weak throw to Dustin Pedroia (Non-baseball fans: he is the small, cocky, excellent Sox second baseman, the best fielder at his position in 2016, a former MVP, and the acknowledged leader of the team now that David Ortiz has retired). Pedroia caught the ball in a first baseman’s stretch, awkwardly, just in time to force out Machado: a double play was out of the question. Machado, however, came into the base hard, sliding late, and barreling right over the bag with his spikes raised. (It looks on the tape as if one foot was elevated  when it hit the base.) Machado’s momentum took him into Pedroia, knocking him down and spiking him, as well as injuring his knee and ankle. Machado appeared to try to catch the Sox player after he passed over the base.

There was no question that Machado was out, but the Red Sox manager argued that the slide was illegal: since last year, runners are not allowed to try to break up double plays by intentionally sliding at opposing fielders. Late slides, slides not intended to allow the runner to get to second base, and sliding past teh base to upend the second baseman or shortstop will be called as obstruction, and the batter is then called out to complete the double play. The umpires disagreed with Farrell, and that is still being debated; it’s not relevant here. Pedroia, meanwhile, was led off the field, obviously injured.

After the game, Red Sox TV analysts and former players Jim Rice (Sox Hall of Fame Sox slugger) and Steve Lyons (an opinionated jackass) chuckled about what was coming. Ancient baseball tradition required, they explained, that the Red Sox “protect their player” who was injured by a careless, inept, or intentionally illegal slide. This meant, they explained, that a Red Sox pitcher in the next game was obligated to hit Machado with a pitch in retaliation. “He knows it!” said Rice. “He’ll be expecting it.” Lyons nodded and laughed. (Full disclosure: I hated Steve Lyons as a player, and I loathe him as an analyst.)

This is indeed an “unwritten law” of baseball, and one of the most unethical. I have seen it countless times, and the result is often fights and injuries, as well as suspensions for the pitcher’s involved and outright beanball wars. The theory is that you can’t let a team “intimidate” you, so a message must be sent. The message is “tit for tat” or “Mob Ethics”: you hurt one of ours, we hurt one of yours. Sometimes the situation requires a pitch directed at other team’s star player, when that team’s scrub injures the pitcher’s team’s star. In this case, the target was an easy call, for Machado was both the miscreant and is also the Orioles best player. Continue reading

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