Tuesday Ethics Tidbits, 8/18/2020: Michelle Lies, The Convention Dies, An Ethicist Is Unwise, And A Red Sox Fan Cries

1. Loyalty dilemma. I have deliberately refused to watch the last two Red Sox games against the Yankees. This, for me, is high treason. For more than 50 years, I have supported the team through its darkest hours, thus entitling me to take special pleasure during its greatest triumphs. There was stretch of 15 years, many of them with dreadful Red Sox teams,in which I watched, attended or listened to every game, even when it required standing on a chair while holding the radio to the ceiling, as Lithuanian folk music broke into the broadcast without warning. However, the current edition looks like it has quit. I get it: the team lost its manager, Cheatin’ Alex Cora. It had to trade its best player, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers because he was determined to sell his services to the highest bidder after this season.  The team’s ace, Chris Sale, is out for the year after arm surgery; last season’s biggest winner got a heart infection from the Wuhan virus and has to sit out the season as well. The team traded last season’s #2 starter because he was absurdly overpaid, and let the #3 sign with the Mets because he was a poor gamble at 20 million a year. Even with all that, the team figured to be competitive because it had, or was supposed to have, a dominant offense. Yet the Red Sox have the worst record in baseball, even worse than the Marlins, who lost half its squad to the pandemic, and with only 40 games left, things aren’t going to turn around.

It’s not the losing I mind: I’ve endured that before. I love baseball: watching your team  lose games can still be exciting and fun. But the Red Sox players look like they’re just waiting for this strange, shortened, season without fans and with piped in crowd sounds to end. Why should I watch that, when it take three hours out of my day, the team is behind by 5 runs by the fourth inning in every game, and watching is less fun than “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”?

And I’m not even considering the giant “Black Lives Matter” banner across the Fenway Park center field bleachers…

Or, having derived so much wisdom, perspective, diversion and joy from Boston’s iconic team throughout my life, am I obligated to stay the course, even if it is just one more thing to make me miserable?

2. No. Just no. Ethics professor Parker Crutchfield is troubled that everyone won’t follow Wuhan virus protection measures, writing,
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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/19: Complainers, Climate Hysterics, Tiny Tims And Fake News

Good morning!

Good news! You won’t be thinking I’m dead any more, at least not until I am.  The combination of some complicated travel itineraries and the death of my laptop resulted in uncharacteristic interruptions of the dialogue here, twice causing soem readers to speculate on my demise, or at least incapacity. No, it was just that budgetary priorities made replacing the travel computer a bit less urgent than things like a new roof, a car that runs, things like that. Over the weekend I address the computer problem, and not a second too soon, as I will be setting off today on yet another New Jersey odyssey. Paul Morella and I will be presenting editions of our Clarence Darrow legal ethics program for N.J. lawyers in Brunswick and Fairfield,  sandwiched in between about 9 hours of driving, but I should be able to keep the ethics fires burning to some extent. Unless I’m dead, of course. As my fatalistic father liked to say cheerily , driving my morbid mom crazy, “You never know!”

1. God bless them, every one! This is one example of non-traditional casting I agree with: increasing numbers of “A Christmas Carol” productions are casting children with disabilities to play Tiny Tim. I would fight to the death for the right of a fully-able young actor to play the roles, as well as for the right of a director to cast one. However, the show presents such an ideal opportunity for a child who normally might not  have many chances to a play any  role on stage  because of his physical limitations that it seems like a shame to let it pass. I also agree with the directors who opine that having a genuinely challenged Tiny Tim gives some extra oomph to the show.

Is it exploitative? Sure, to some extent. That, however, is show business.

I draw the line, however, at casting Cratchit children who are different races than their parents, making it look like Mrs. Cratchit has been turning tricks to make ends meet, or “Tiny Tina.”

2.  Here’s another kind of “fake news”…Yahoo! News felt that an entire post was necessary to inform the world that the President had screened “Joker” at the White House. Why is this news, or even mildly interesting? It’s a big movie, with lots of buzz. Presidents have screened movies at the White House for decades, usually without comment from the news media. Now, if he had screened the original “Birth of a Nation,” like racist Woodrow Wilson, or “Tusk,” that might be worth a small news item.

Let’s see, what other fake news items (as in thins that don’t qualify as news) are there on Yahoo!? How about “Michelle Obama Looked Incredible in a Yellow Corseted Schiaparelli Gown at the American Portrait Gala”? For some reason, I thought the fawning over Michelle, which as always hyperbolic and excessive, might have abated since she left the White House, after all, the news media quit going bonkers over every Jackie Kennedy ensemble once she wasn’t First Lady any more. Then there’s the matter of the gown Yahoo! is raving about… Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Michelle Obama

Like it or not, Michelle Obama has established herself as a cultural role model, and millions of American respect her statements and opinions and take them to heart. As clearly contrary to reality as  her now-famous “When the go low, we go high” remark was—its is difficult to remember the last time the Democratic leadership “went high”—the statement would have been an ethical one if it were true, and was still arguably aspirational, unless regards it as cynical public deception.

(Which, I confess, I have…)

This week, as important voices in her party increasingly courted hate, anger and violence among members of the public in the wake of Operation Smear Kavanaugh failing so spectacularly, the former First Lady refused to encourage the mob, and told the Today Show,

“Fear is not … a proper motivator. Hope wins out, and if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?…Which motto do you want them to live by? And I have to think about that as a mother.”

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Wait, WHAT? Democrats Think That They Aren’t Unethical ENOUGH?

There are so many things in today’s post-Kavanugh confirmation Politico piece that might explode an ethics-savvy readers’ head, the CDC should seek leave to ban it as a menace to public health.  The Thing is titled, Democrats Fear They’re the Wet Rag Party: Kavanaugh’s victory leaves many on the left saying it’s time to get mad—and even, and better proof of the reality of Trump Derangement and the ethics collapse of the Left  would  be hard to find.

A digression: Well, not TOO hard. A novelist and passionate progressive blogger named Chuck Wendig published this Twitter rant after the confirmation vote:

There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do. Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil. Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must.

Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy. They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back. They can eat shit. All of them. They can eat a boot covered in shit. Winter is coming, you callous fucknecks, you prolapsed assholes, you grotesque monsters, you racists and rapists and wretched abusers, you vengeful petty horrors.

Sidenote: some will tell you to be civil because our rage and scorn will fuel the other side, but fuck that double standard in both its ears.

Well, if you hadn’t said those SASSY WORDS and demonstrated ANGER at our whittled-down democracy, I for a second might’ve been convinced not to eat this baby. But fie! Fie on you! Your incivility MADE me eat this baby!” Spoiler warning: they were always gonna eat that baby.

PS— It’s okay if you’re not okay.

I keep hearing the talking point that confirming Kavanaugh somehow undermined democracy. This is essentially a Big Lie, which the Democrats and “the resistance,” being totalitarians in training, are employing with increasing frequency, if not deftness. Democracy is allowing elected Presidents to appoint qualified judges to the Supreme Court, which is what Trump did, and the Democrats tried to prevent. Our democracy demands the presumption of innocence and due process, which Democrats tried to declare null and void. Our democracy demands equal justice under law, which means that accusers and the accused both have rights, and one gender isn’t accorded greater deference than the other.

How did poor Chuck’s brains and values get this scrambled?

End of digression: back to Politico. Reporter John Harris tells us that Democrats think they were too nice when they employed every cheap trick, unfair avenue of inquiry and a series of late, legally and factually dubious attacks on Kavanaugh’s character to defeat or at least delay his confirmation.

Does this post-confirmation quote make your head explode? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/13/18: You Can’t Get Much More Ethics Issues Variety Than This!

Good Morning!

[Mickey is really playing that piano. Boy he was amazing…]

1 A Russian Jumbo!  And it worked! In Russia, Irina Kudinova was charged with mocking the Church after she  posted a photograph that prosecutors alleged was obscene and thus constituted the “deliberate desecration of a religious object” and “insulting the feelings of believers.”   Gee, I can’t imagine why anyone would think THAT..Here’s the photo:

The judge ruled that it was merely a photo of an Easter cake and nothing more. Elephant? What elephant? Or maybe “What elephant phallus?” would be more accurate. Kudinova was awarded 20,000 rubles in a court action for false accusations.

Few cases better illustrate the principle that in Bizarro World attempts at ethical acts become unethical. The problem is that Russia has laws that discourage free speech. In order to undermine an unethical law, the judge in this case made a ruling that is obviously contrary to reality, and what anyone can see with their own eyes. If judges can ignore evidence and deny reality to protect citizens from an unjust law, then they can do the same to unjustly punish citizens who break no laws at all.

I’m happy for Kudinova, but the Russian judge is a well-intentioned ethics dunce. His solution does as much damage as good.

2. “Thanks, Mom and Dad…and bite me.” The parents of GOP Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson each gave $2,700, the maximum allowed, to the primary campaign of the Democrat their son is challenging, Senator Tammy Baldwin. Continue reading

Ethics Q & A On Obama’s Speaking Fees

Former President Barack Obama received a $400,000 speaking fee for an appearance at an A&E Network event  yesterday, just as controversy was building over Obama accepting the same fee to appear at a Wall Street firm’s conference.

What’s going on here?

The ex-President is cashing in, that’s what’s going on here. This has become standard operating procedure for former POTUSes, beginning with Gerald Ford, who was showered with criticism by Democrats and the news media for signing with the William Morris agency and picking up what was at the time considered obscene speaking fees from corporations and foreign governments. Ford’s fees are dwarfed by Obama’s, but then Barack is a much better speaker than the late President Ford was. (Almost anyone is.)

Jimmy Carter showed admirable restraint by not devoting his post-Presidency to enriching himself off of his years in office, but Ronald Reagan took some mega-fees to speak abroad. The Clintons, as we know too well, instantly went from rags to riches by selling their celebrity, an exercise that was especially dubious because Hillary was on the rise. Obama’s speaking fees are just one more step along the cashing-in path that both he and Michelle had already begun traveling with the astounding 65 million dollar deal the couple signed to write their biographies.

Some questions and answers on the ethics of Obama’s payday:

1.  Is Obama ‘s acceptance of all this money ethical?

In a vacuum, it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. He set a fee, and someone is willing to pay it. Hillary’s fee was $250,000; if she can get that much for her dry-as-toast delivery as a former Senator, Secretary of State and First Lady, Obama’s a bargain at $400,000. As a private citizen, he has the same right any of us do to sell his books and speeches at whatever the market will bear.

I, for example, get $37.56 for an hour long speech, and am glad to get it..

2. But it isn’t in a vacuum, right?

Right. Obama still has power and influence; he still promises to be a voice in the Democratic party. He’s not exactly a private citizen, and no ex-President is. Taking such a large payment from a Wall Street firm, after all of Obama’s rhetoric (and that of Bernie Sanders, the non-Democrat now being paraded as a leader of the Democratic party) condemning Wall Street has the decided whiff of hypocrisy about it. Not only, that, but as with Hillary Clinton and Bill, the payment of such jaw-dropping amounts for minimal service natural raises questions of pay-offs. Obama’s administration famously sought no criminal sanctions for Wall Street executives despite their  role in what Obama called “driving the economy into a ditch.” How do we know this wasn’t part of an installment payment to Obama for services already rendered, a quid pro quo? We don’t.

It is also hard to make sense out of those fees if they aren’t paying for something more than an hour long speech.

3. So these fees create “the appearance of impropriety?” Continue reading

More From The “When Ethics Alarms Are Devoured By Hysteria And Partisan Hate” Files: KABOOM!

Thank you and Merry Christmas, Carl Palladino.

Thank you and Merry Christmas, Carl Palladino.

How somebody in the public eye can utter opinions like this for publication is absolutely beyond comprehension.  Hence the inside of my head is now outside my head. The red on the walls and ceiling looks kind of Christmassy, I must say.

A Buffalo weekly called Artvoice asked several prominent local figures what they wanted for 2017, asking several questions.

Carl Paladino, a local developer Republican member of the Erie County school board who was Donald Trump’s campaign’s co-chair in New York answered the first two questions this way:

1. What would you most like to happen in 2017?

Paladino: “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.”

2. What would you like to see go away in 2017?

Paladino: “Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

What is this? A breakdown? The equivalent of civic suicide? As I would assume the most mentally handicapped of socially-inept morons would expect, these vile comments, which Paladino knew would be published, immediately caused him to be condemned far and wide. Donald Trump’s transition team  called his remarks “absolutely reprehensible.”  Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz called on Paladino to resign immediately. Assemblyman Sean Ryan D-Buffalo said Paladino’s comments were “outrageous, dangerous and disturbing.” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo described the remarks as “racist, ugly and reprehensible.”  Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown called the comments “terrible.”

By late yesterday, over a thousand people had signed an online petition calling for Paladino’s removal from the school board. Paladino’s response to the uproar?

“Yeah, I’m not politically correct,” he said. “They asked what I want, and I told them.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Michelle Obama; Runner-Up: Her Husband

michelle-and-oprah

“We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept and Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believe that — what else do you have if you don’t have hope,What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”

First Lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast last week.

I was going to ignore this unforgivable  statement, as there have been so many notable melt-downs from progressives and Democrats that if I commented on all of them it would be all freak-out, all the time on Ethics Alarms. However, the video really bothered me, and the timing of the remarks were so inappropriate—Let’s ask Syrians, who your husband decided to abandon in their desperation when he allowed his promise of a “red line” to  evaporate  as Assad turned his chemical weapons on them, how much hope they have, Mrs. Obama!—that I tried to think of any previous First Lady who so blatantly abused her role as a non-partisan symbol of stability and optimism for all Americans. There hasn’t been one. No First Lady, even the outspoken Barbara Bush or the activist Eleanor Roosevelt, has come close to declaring that hope was dead in America. It is especially irresponsible for a First Lady to talk like this as her husband leaves office. His predecessor was gracious, and the First Family owes its successor the same courtesy and respect. Continue reading

The Naked Presidential Candidate’s Wife Principle

melania

I must confess, I didn’t see this variation of the Naked Teacher Principle coming.

That long-running topic on Ethics Alarms involves teachers who allow naked or sexually provocative photographs of themselves to become available to their pre-college age students. The verdict here is that such teachers have no basis for complaint if their employers subsequently judge them to be fatally diminished as role models and authority figures, having traversed into the category of sex objects, at least for some students. There are many variations of the principle that have been explored here, some requiring substantive exceptions, like The Provocatively-Clad Bodybuilding Teacher Principle. Some are slam-dunks, like the Online-Porn Star Teacher Principle.

Today the question raised is how we should feel about potential First Ladies who have left naked photo-shoots in their wake. Melania Trump, now the  speech-writer trophy wife of GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump, was previously not a role model, but just a model, and occasionally a naked model. The tabloid New York Post somehow got a hold of some of her more stimulating photos and published them, the first batch with the typical Post headline, “The Ogle Office,” and the second, showing Mrs, Trump in some girl-on-girl action…

Melania Post 2

…headlined, “Menage a Trump.”

Is this unfair of the Post? Is this below-the-belt, attacking Melania to get at her husband? Continue reading

Anonymous Illustrates An Important Ethics Lesson: Unethical Jerks Do Not Become More Ethical Because They Find Someone More Unethical To Oppose

Anon

Anonymous, the  juvenile, arrogant and criminal ” hactivist collective” of self-glorifying anarchists, has finally identified a group undeniably more despicable than it is: ISIS. On the flawed theory that annoying the enemy of their enemies will be sufficient to make those enemies think the Anonymous vandals aren’t the destructive jerks they have proven themselves to be, the activist hackers are calling on the rest of us to follow their lead by making December 11 “ISIS Trolling Day.”  This will be a day, declares Anonymous, for Americans to mock ISIS with memes and disrespectful pictures of dead members of the terror group, to use the hashtags #Daesh and #Daeshbags while posting images of goats to with captions referring to the goats as ISIS members’ wives,

What a mature, clever plan. This may be even more effective in countering terrorism than this… Continue reading