Monday Morning Warm-Up, 5/4/2020: Six Reasons To Be Cynical [Corrected]

“May The Forthe be with you!”

As Daffy Duck would thay…

1. Following a familiar unethical pattern...Eva Murry’s allegation about Joe Biden making a remark about her breasts at a political even when  she was 14 seems to have been decisively debunked. Biden’s schedule shows he didn’t attend the event, and the chair at the time confirms he wasn’t there.

What would possess someone like Murry to be so vocal and self-righteous about something that didn’t happen? As with the Kavanaugh mess, subsequent fake stories undermine the main one. Even though they have nothing to do with each other, Murry’s fiction, if Biden really didn’t attend the event, increases cynicism about Tara Reade’s account.

2. What a surprise…Harvard’s dedication to feminism stops at the bank vault. Harvard, while it was violating the constitutional rights of male students by punishing them if they belonged to men-only clubs off-campus, was also giving aid and comfort to convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The regime of first female Harvard President Drew Faust was full of dubious and virtue-signaling measures to ensure the esteemed university was sufficiently woke, including discriminating against one ethnic group (Asian-Americans) to elevate another ethnic group (African-Americans). Yet when it came to its attitude toward an infamous sexual predator, what mattered to Faust and Friends was, you guessed it, money.

Epstein, who was provided his own office at the school following his 2008 sweetheart plea deal that incredibly allowed him a quick release from prison to continue his <cough!> hobby, visited the campus more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018 often accompanied by young women who acted as his assistants, according to a report on the Harvard-Epstein alliance released last week. Apparently Epstein’s primary value to Harvard was connecting academics and scholars with financiers, VIPs and other sources of contributions, including Wall Street wheeler-dealer Leon Black, the founder and chief executive officer of Apollo Global Management Inc., one of the world’s largest private equity funds. Epstein also provided access to his pal Bill Clinton and retail billionaire Leslie Wexner. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Snack, 1/17/2020: Dirty Money, Dirty Baseball, And “Parasite”

Yum or Yecchh?

1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”

Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.

In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be  severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”

This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/11/2020: Epstein And Facebook And Barr, Oh My!

It’s Thaturday!

Time, once again, to salute the courage of Karen Carpenter’s much less talented brother Richard, who nonetheless had the courage to offer, as his only notable solo offering for the Carpenters, a song that highlighted his speech impediment. Why did he do this? We’ll never know.

And yes, I have “The Wizard of Oz” on the brain. It was so much better when that wonderful movie was only on TV once  a year: then it was special. Now, especially over the holidays (and what it has to do with Christmas, I don’t know) I had to repeatedly change channels to avoid it. Well, after Judy sang “Over the Rainbow, anyway…

1. Is it really so unreasonable and a “right wing conspiracy theory” to wonder about how Jeffrey Epstein, who could have implicated such powerful people as Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew in criminal activities, ended up dead in his cell?

The latest forehead-slapping development: The video  made outside of Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan jail cell when during his failed suicide attempt seemed to be missing, and even possibly destroyed. The jailhouse video turned up, however, muting suspicions about whether Epstein’s successful  suicide at the Metropolitan Correctional Center wasn’t something more sinister.  Prosecutors confirmed that the video had been saved. This week, however,  prosecutors revealed that the jail staff  had preserved video from the wrong jail cell, and the Epstein footage no longer existed.

Meanwhile, two guards who were on duty when  Epstein killed himself are being charged with falsifying records and conspiracy. The guards surfed the internet and dozed instead of checking on the prisoner every half-hour, as they were required to do.

Conspiracy or not, this is epic incompetence, and rather convenient incompetence at that. Hanlon’s Razor, however, applies. I guess.

My only other observation is that government efficiency and job performance is obviously so reliable that I don’t know why Bernie Sanders isn’t running away with the Democratic nomination race. Of course we should put government employees in charge of our lives. It’s a no-brainer. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Review, 12/I/50: Birthday/Finding Dad Dead In His Chair Anniversary Edition

[Yesterday I was just about to post the following when I felt a recurrence of the dizziness that sent me to the floor on Thanksgiving,  This sent me to the emergency room, where I spent  the second worst birthday of my life. I just got home, now just about 24 hours later, after three blood tests, about ten stroke tests, lots of other tests and quizzes, four doctors and a miserable night, culminating in the conclusion that whatever this was, it wasn’t related to my heart or circulation. 54% of fainting incidents, I learned remain mysteries. Swell.]

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Hi.

Ten years ago today, I went over to my parent’s condo to check on my dad, since my mother, then recovering from knee surgery, was concerned that she hadn’t heard from him. Jack A. Marshall Sr. was also going to take me out for dinner, since it was my birthday, but that pleasure was not to be. He had died, quietly during a nap, a few months short of his 90th year. I miss my father’s inspiration, guidance and unflagging support constantly, and December first has been a matter of serious dissonance for me ever since. I did take comfort, while everyone was telling me that I was a fool not to go to the emergency room after my fainting episode on Thanksgiving, that the odds of anyone dropping dead not only on the anniversary of his father’s death, but also on his own birthday, seems extremely remote. Kind of cool, though.

I took my birthday off of my Facebook page because those reflex happy birthday messages—I send them myself—are meaningless and  faintly obligatory. Two years ago I received almost 200 of them, then last year I got the message when the number fell by about two-thirds. I had made it clear by then that I was rebelling against the Facebook Borg aka “the resistance,” and so I had been told that I did NOT deserve a happy birthday. Fine. Bite me.

1 “The Crown” Ethics. A. The Pretend Sister-in-Law Of The King’s Pass! While waiting to see if I was going to pass out again, I began watching Season 3 of Netflix’s “The Crown.” Like the first two seasons, the series is uniformly excellent and largely accurate, but I am annoyed at Helena Bonham Carter’s turn as the middle-aged Princess Margaret. Carter is an excellent actress as well as one of the biggest stars the series has featured, but to be blunt, she’s too fat to play Margaret, who at that point in her life was  still vain winning the battle against middle-aged spread (at 5’1, it could not have been easy.) For a production that mostly aims for near perfect look-alike casting (young Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Phillip are especially uncanny), why would the producers allow Carter to appear on screen like this? Mostly, I’m annoyed at her: actors gain and lose weight all the time for roles, and a mere 10-15 pounds would have made Carter a credible and flattering Margaret. She could have hit the gym and laid off the kidney pie; obviously the actress didn’t care, and the producer and director let her get away with it, because she’s a star. Yet all the lines about how glamorous Margaret is make no sense as a result. Carter’s a beautiful woman, but she’s a mighty frumpy Princess Margaret.

B. A perfect future episode for Season 4, or maybe 5, is going on right now.  Prince Andrew, the younger brother of Prince Charles, has long been mentioned a party pal of billionaire sex-slaver Jeffrey Epstein, and thanks to a car crash  of a BBC interview in which he couldn’t have seemed more guilty and less remorseful, the Duke of York is reportedly being removed from all royal duties and may have his allowance cut off, meaning that his two princess daughters will no longer be supported by taxpayers, among other nasty consequences. Charleshas ordered a crisis meeting with his scandal-scarred brother before Monday night’s dreaded BBC special with key accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accuses Andrew of raping her while she was under Epstein’s control.

The news media has been ostentatiously uninterested in Prince Andrew’s travails, in marked contrast to its coverage of the various Charles-Diana scandals in days of yore. One reason, I think, is that Epstein’s OTHER celebrity playmate was Bill Clinton, and it will be hard to expose one without drawing attention to the other. After all, the objective now is to get Trump, not remind the public about Bill (or Harvey.) Media bias is exhibited as much by what isn’t reported as by what is. Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics, 11/9/2019: ABC’s Epstein Cover-Up, Facebook’s Whistleblower Identity Censorship, And More

I started this one at 3:30 AM. 

If you can’t sleep, might as well be thinking about ethics…

1. “I’m smart! I’m not stupid, like everybody says…” While trying to find  the post I linked to yesterday(about corrupt and abusive systems of municipal funding, justice and law enforcement that “are virtual dictated by poverty and demographics that make an ethical system impossible”),, I stumbled upon a post written in August, 2014, titled “Prediction: The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck.”Five years and three months later, I had no clue as to what that prediction might have been, and was curious to find out what it was. My prediction was this:

At this point, we have no way of knowing what the truth is. Maybe Wilson executed Brown. Maybe he is a racist. Maybe he is a psychopath. And maybe Brown’s conduct justified the use of deadly force by the officer, and the teen was largely responsible for his own demise. Presumably we will eventually know the truth.I confidently predict this, however, based on what occurred in the Martin-Zimmerman case:

IF the evidence supports the conclusion that Brown charged at Wilson, neither the family of the slain teen, nor the African American community in Ferguson, nor the protesters, the race-hustlers, the black and progressive politicians who benefit by preserving racial tension and distrust,  much of the news media and many, many pundits and political bloggers, will change their rhetoric, accusations or the prevailing Ferguson narrative one bit. They need for the narrative as it stands to be true, and want it to be true. Massive confirmation bias will ensure that the death of Mike Brown will be talked about, protested and regarded as an example of racist police oppression of young black men, and the truth, in the end, will be irrelevant.

I hope my prediction is wrong.

And, as we now know, it was not. Several candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for President have referred to Brown’s “murder,” the news media has largely allowed their intentional misrepresentation to go uncondemned.

2. Democracy Dies in Darkness update: Facebook and YouTube have joined the bizarre media censorship conspiracy that is committed to keeping the name of the Ukraine “whistleblower” from as many lazy and inattentive members of the public as possible. This is happening despite the fact that his name has been thoroughly revealed in many forums: he is almost certainly Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst, committed Democrat and consort of Joe Biden, Rep. Schiff, John Brennan and other Impeachment Plan S architects. Ciaramella also was cited in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the now-disproven collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. It included  Ciaramella’s May 2017 email summaries of a meeting between Trump and Russian officials  that were eventually  leaked to a New York Times reporter. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Flotsam And Jetsam, 9/16/2019: Ethics Movies, Clowns And Harvard Professors

…As I prep for a CLE road trip…

1. I finally saw “Doubt,” the film adaptation of the John Patrick Shanley stage drama about a parish priest suspected of child abuse. It’s an ethics film, and unlike many ethics films, made a profit at the box office.

I had seen the play on stage, and found it didactic and contrived; the film did not, I’m sure because the cast was so excellent. Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the priest were all wonderful, especially Davis, whose single scene in which she runs down a series of desperate arguments and rationalizations to justify allowing her son to be molested—maybe—is an ethics cornucopia. Unlike the stage production I saw, the movie benefits by having its protagonists appear less sympathetic than its apparent villain.

This goes on the ethics movie list, which is due for an update.

2.  Yet another ethics movie of more recent vintage is 2019’s “The Challenger Disaster,” a fictionalized recounting of how the decision was made to allow the doomed space shuttle to launch despite the warnings of Morton Thiokol engineers.  I wrote about this depressing ethics case study here , in a tribute to the primary Cassandra in the tragedy, Roger Boisjoly, and here,  about his troubled colleague, Bob Ebeling. The film’s hero appears to be an amalgam of the two. Here is an excerpt from a review on The Engineering Ethics Blog:

Even if you are pretty familiar with the basics of the story, as I was, the film is almost agonizing to watch as the launch time draws closer….The focus is always on Adam [the fictional hybrid of the engineers opposing the launch]: his belief going in that the truth is always a sufficient argument (it’s not, as it turns out), his doubts that he’s done enough to stop the launch, and his retrospective descriptions of what went on in the hours leading up to the launch…. the generally underlit atmosphere symbolizes Adam’s darkening mood as the critical conference call comes and goes, and the decision is made to launch. After Adam drives home that evening, he just sits out in the driveway in his car until his wife comes and gets into the seat beside him. …Later, during the  hearings that Adam and his fellow engineers attend, they come forward out of the audience and interrupt the proceedings after they hear a Morton-Thiokol manager lie about his knowledge of the seal problem. After the hearing, a sympathetic commission member finds Adam and reassures him that there are whistleblowing laws to protect him from repercussions of his testimony.

While it is never good to kick a man while he is down, I wish the film had taken time to show in more detail the intensity of the ostracism that forced the real-life Boisjoly to resign from Morton-Thiokol after his participation in the hearings made him persona non grata at work. … Boisjoly made a new career out of giving talks to engineering students about his experiences. …For a complex, historically accurate, and thought-provoking take on the Challenger disaster, I cannot think of a better medium than “The Challenger Disaster”  for conveying the seriousness of the emotion-laden decisions that have to be made at critical times. It is not a fun movie, but it’s a good one. And I hope it does well in video-on-demand release, because engineers need to see it.

Also lawyers, doctors, corporate executives, military officers, government officials, journalists, students… Continue reading

Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

(I Admit It: I Can’t Resist….) Poll: Bill Clinton In A Blue Dress

The portrait above, which once seen, cannot be unseen, reportedly was hanging in the late Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan. Clinton, as well know be now, hung out with the infamous sexual predator more times than is good for his reputation.

Now this. So far, no mainstream media source has covered the weird episode. Few websites have either. Call me crazy, but I find it difficult to believe that if an equivalent portrait was found hanging in Epstein’s lair with the subject being Donald Trump or George W. Bush, CNN, MSNBC, the Times and the Post would be all over the story, snickering, speculating and asking questions. I assume that the Democratic candidates for President would be doing so too, noting that this was one more example of what an embarrassment the President was, that it hinted of his suspicious involvement with the sex offender, and that it proved how “unfit” he was to sit in the Oval Office.

On conservative blogs, several commenters have asked whether any reporter will have the fortitude to ask Bill of Hillary about the monstrosity. Don’t they have a duty to at least ask? What could the painting possibly mean?

I’ll be interested in the response to this poll, the topic of which is journalism ethics and double standards…

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/10/19: Insomnia Edition

Jeez, what time is it?

This stuff  kept me awake, gave me nightmares, or made me wish I was dreaming. Started this post before 5 am…

1. Idiotic meme of the week:

A lawyer friend whom I can vouch for having a brain actually posted this thing, apparently approvingly. In zombie movies, the equivalent is when a previously normal friend suddenly bites off your nose. Jules Suzdaltsev is hard left progressive journalist whose background is in film and psychology, and would be a fine example for teaching purposes of what someone sounds like who is so far on one side of the ideological spectrum that he is incapable of finding the center. He’s an ideologue and a Leftist incapable of objective analysis or non-compliant thought, who was steeped for seven years in the  rarefied politics of San Francisco, and who tweets deliberate misrepresentations like “There have been more MASS SHOOTINGS in 2019 than there have been DAYS in 2019” and such cliched “resistance” bile like “Hey do you guys remember when the generation that grew up breathing lead fumes ended up voting for this guy as President?”

The scary thing is not Suzdaltsev—he’s a professional left-wing echo chamber provocateur, and good luck to him, glad he has a career. The scary thing is that lawyers, trained in critical thought, can reach the point where they find extremist agitprop persuasive. Society relies on educated, trained professionals to steer us clear of such rot, not to embrace it. The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck has seen one professional group after another abandon this duty for mob-pleasing expediency.

And how can someone post a statement that Bernie and Warren are barely left-of-center as anything but satire?

2. Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide, hanging himself in his cell. This was gross incompetence by the New York City jail, as well as federal authorities. If there ever was a prisoner who was a candidate for suicide (or murder), Epstein was it. He needed to be on a round-the-clock suicide watch. Epstein was allowed to cheat the justice system and his victims. He is now officially innocent of the crimes he was charged with.

Aside from all that, good. The world is better place without him in it. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Run-Down, 7/20/2019: Perry Mason, Kamala Harris, And Home Runs-On-Demand

I’m calling it a run-down because I’m run down….

1. More “phantom document” ethics. Last moth I wrote about the ethically dubious “phantom document” tactic, in which a lawyer alludes to a document he or she either does not have, or suggests a document has content it does not in order to trick a witness into recanting testimony.

I just saw the Eighties made-for-TV movie “Perry Mason Returns” that rebooted the classic series (and not so well) for an aging Raymond Burr. The great defense lawyer comes out of retirement to defend old legal assistant Della Street (Barbara Hale), who has been accused of murder. In the trial’s climax, Perry’s investigator Paul Drake, Jr. (played by Hale’s real-life son, actor William Katt of “The Greatest American Hero” fame) bursts into the courtroom and hands Perry a document, which he then holds as he asks the witness (Richard Anderson, playing a different role than he played in the original series) he was in the midst of cross-examining, “Would you like to reconsider your testimony? Would you like me to read a sworn statement from Bobby Lynch, in which he says you hired him to kill Arthur Gordon?”

The witness confesses that he planned the murder that Della was being tried for, and framed her. Della goes free! Perry then tells Della that there was no sworn statement. “I didn’t say I had a sworn statement,” he chuckles, “I just asked if he wanted me to read one.” Continue reading