“You Keep Using That Word, ‘Ethics.’ I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means…” [CORRECTED!]

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission is a supposedly essential and honorable government agency whose mission is “ to promote and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of Wisconsin in their government, support the operation of open and responsible government, preserve the integrity of the governmental decision-making process, and protect the rights of individuals through the administration of Wisconsin’s campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws, and through readily available and understandable disclosure of information.​”

Democrat Scot Ross was named to Wisconsin’s state Ethics Commission last week.  What are his qualifications? Well, he’s a career partisan journalist and bare-knuckles political activist, neither of which are occupations that tend to build strong ethics alarms, or, as they are currently conceived, have any use for them. They do have a tendency to vomit out people like Ross.

This week,  the new ethics commission member retweeted a photoshopped image —Do I really have to show it to you? I guess I do— Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/2/19: While Basking In The Glow Of Another Life Lesson From Baseball

Go Nats!

The Washington Nationals had never won an elimination game in the National league post-season. They were 0-6 in such games going into last might’s do-or-die single Wild Card play-off at home against the Miracle Milwaukee Brewers. Following the script many Nats fans dreaded, the team’s Hall of Fame-bound ace, Max Scherzer, quickly gave up three runs while the Brew Crew’s storied bullpen kept the offense at bay save a solo homer from National shortstop Trey Turner. Heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals had to face closer Josh Hader (he of the Hader Gotcha), who gives up hits less often than some pitchers give up runs.

Then, as they say, fate took a hand. With one out, uninspiring Nats pinch-hitter Michael Taylor reached first illicitly. A 3-2 pitch from Hader hit the knob of Taylor’s bat and immediately ricocheted onto his hand. It should have been called a foul, but the umpires ruled it a hit-by-pitch, sending Taylor to first base. Hader struck out the next Nats batter, then aging Nats slugger Ryan Zimmerman was called upon as another pinch-hitter. He barely connected with a pitch out of the strike zone, breaking his bat, but his weak “dying quail” bloop dropped in just over the head of the Milwaukee second baseman for a cheap and fortunate single. (On TV, Zimmerman could be seen smiling and shrugging sheepishly.) That meant the tying runs were on base for the Nats best hitter, MVP candidate Anthony Rendon. Hader gave him what is known as an intentional unintentional base on balls in order to face 20-year-old Juan Soto, a left-handed batter. Lefty Hader allowed left-handed batters to hit .143 this season. But young Soto lined a pitch into right center, and Brewers right fielder Trent Grisham, one of the heroes of the late-season Brewers play-off drive, did a Bill Buckner. The single got past him (he was charging the ball in what would have been a futile effort to throw out the tying run at the plate) , and all three runners scored. Incredibly, the Nats now led 4-3. After the Brewers went down in the top of the 9th without scoring, they, and not Milwaukee, moved on to the next round of the play-offs.

Lesson: In baseball, as in life, it is as important to be lucky as to be good. Chaos lurks in every second, and the illusion of control is just that, an illusion. A bad call, a fluke hit, and a horribly-timed fielding botch that the same outfielder avoids 99 times out of a hundred, and so much changed for two cities, two fan bases, and the 2019 post-season, affecting jobs, careers, reputations and commerce.

This is why we should never give up, never despair, and never get cocky. It is also why we should strive to live as ethically as possible. We can’t control whether we win or lose, but we can control how.

1. Again we must ask: when did the Democratic Party decide to abandon freedom of speech?  Yesterday, we learned that Joe Biden’s campaign wants the news media to censor adversary commentary from Rudy Giuliani, while claiming that no one who isn’t a public official is qualified to opine on TV regarding public policy.  Now Senator Kamala Harris, who also aspires to be President, says President Trump should be banned from using Twitter because he  uses the platform in an “irresponsible” way. Harris, in an interview with CNN host Anderson Cooper, also called for “other mechanisms” to make sure Trump’s words “do not in fact harm anyone”—you know, like harming her party’s election prospects by exposing its Big Lies and open coup attempts.

I wonder if the public sees how ominous the repeated Democratic calls for censorship are. Maybe the President will tweet about that.

Of course, the President’s use of Twitter is often irresponsible, but also a necessary end-around media propaganda aimed at unseating him and undermining democracy. It is remarkable that Harris, a Senator and a lawyer, somehow missed  that the First Amendment proclaims the importance of free speech to our society. It doesn’t only endorse the right to engage in responsible speech. I think, for example, that advocating censoring the speech of the President of the United States is irresponsible, but I’ll defend Harris’s right to do it—and my right to conclude that because she does it, she is an ignorant, dangerous fool. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 6/26/17

1. I am puzzled that no respected journalism source—assuming arguendo that there is one—hasn’t taken on the New York Times’ alleged list of President Trump’s “lies,” which was in my Sunday Times and released on-line earlier. I will do it today, but it shouldn’t fall to me, or other similarly obscure analysts. Why, for example, hasn’t the Washington Post taken this golden opportunity to prove how biased, dishonest and incompetent its rival is? Because, you see, the list is disgraceful, and smoking gun evidence of the Times’ abdication of its duty to its readers, except its own perceived duty to give them around the clock Trump-bashing.

The other thing I’m puzzled about is why I continue to subscribe to the New York Times.

2. One possible reason: The Sunday Times is now a weekly collage of the various derangements, false narratives and  obsessions of the Left, and worth reading just to witness how 1) bias makes you stupid and 2) how unmoored to reality one can be and still be judged worthy of op-ed space. Here, for example, is “Black Deaths, American Lies” (the print title), a screed by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at American University in Washington, D.C. (Disclosure: I was also a professor at American University. But I was an honest and apolitical one.)

The first line is, “Why are police officers rarely charged for taking black lives, and when they are, why do juries rarely convict?” This is deceit: an honest scholar wouldn’t have written it, and an ethical editor wouldn’t have allowed it to get into print. The sentence implies that officers are less rarely charged and convicted when they take white lives, and this is not true. In the print version, the article is headed by a touching photo of a street memorial to Mike Brown, whom we now know got himself shot. The Black Lives Matter narrative that Brown was murdered is still carried on by racist activists, ignorant members of the public, cynical politicians  and unethical figures like Kendi, who lend their authority to divisive falsehoods.  Kendi then focuses on the Philandro Castile shooting, as if its facts support his thesis. They don’t. First, the officer was charged, though he shouldn’t have been. Second, we have now seen the video, which clearly shows that after telling the officer that he had a gun, Castile reached into his pocket and began pulling out his wallet as the obviously panicked officer shouted at him not to pull out his gun. Just as the video proves that the officer was unfit to be a cop, it shows that he was in fear of his life and why. He could not be convicted of murder on that evidence. Never mind: The professor writes, Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: How Much Mockery Should Chelsea Clinton Get For Her Brain-Dead…But FUNNY!— Tweet?

The above tweet and graphic somehow wended its way to Chelsea Clinton. You know: Hope of the Democratic Party Chelsea Clinton? Lifetime Impact Award winner Chelsea Clinton? Graduate of Stanford,  with a masters degree from Oxford—that Chelsea Clinton?

Here is how that Chelsea Clinton responded:

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is…

How much public ridicule, if any, should be heaped on Chelsea for this?

And why?

Among the  retorts so far:

“No, this is the exact hat Lincoln was wearing when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. People forget that.”

“Nope, Lincoln was wearing that exact hat at the Theater.”

“Nope, they found a picture of Lincoln wearing a MAGA hat from the nineteenth century. No photoshop needed.”

“I remember this photo was taken at the 1856 Republican National Convention and is real.”

“It’s as real as those Bosnian snipers.”

My answer: she should be as much and as wittily as possible, as long as one agrees that similar treatment should greet one’s own brain-farts if they are especially funny, like this one is.  This will be a great test of Chelsea’s character: if she can take the ribbing and laugh at herself, that will win her points with me.

If she doesn’t understand what’s wrong with the tweet, however…well, that would be a problem.

________________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

Ethics Update : Donald, Hillary, Ted and Bernie

Rubio-Obama-650x326

It’s time once again to examine the latest ethics escapades of our four front-runners to be the next President of the United States:

Donald Trump

Well, what do you know? Despite turning the last Republican debate into a “Bush lied, people died” bloodbath of accusations right out of Move-On.org and asserting that his judgment is superior because he opposed the Iraq invasion “from the start,” Donald Trump in fact did support the war “from the start.” Newly re-discovered tapes from the Howard Stern show reveal the shock jock asking Trump, “Are you for invading Iraq?” and Trump replying, “Yeah, I guess so.” Asked at town hall forum by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about the statement,  Trump responded: “I could have said that.”

Well, it’s on tape, Donald; you did say that.

Trump then insisted that his past support for the war did not matter because “by the time the war started I was against it.”

Oh, after the war started you were against it! 1) Prove it. 2) If someone makes public statements on all sides of controversies, does that allow them to pick whichever one turns out to be correct after the fact? Or does it just mean that the individual is an untrustworthy, dishonest, feckless hack?

It’s a rhetorical question.

Trump blew up the last debate and wounded his entire party based on a misrepresentation.

What utter scum this man is!

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Continue reading

Pop Quiz: The Bottom Of The Slippery Slope

Merkel out

What’s missing from the photo above that ran in the ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper HaMevaser, or The Announcer?

No, the answer isn’t “any Americans,” though that would be correct too.

Why, it’s all the women! German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Paris Mayor Ann Hidalgo and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini were all photoshopped out of the Israeli newspaper.

When you have to have to alter the facts to fit your ideology and world view, this is supposed to trigger an ethics alarm that alerts you to the unpleasant truth that the problem is with you and your biases, conclusions and beliefs, not the facts.

Making people disappear from photos is the most grotesque of such self-indicting strategies, but there are many less spectacular but equally unethical examples, and right at home, right now.  Can you name some?

I’ll get you started with my personal “favorite”:

Hands up

And to answer your question: I’ll stop harping on this one when I stop hearing Ferguson and Mike Brown routinely mentioned as examples of excessive police force and racism.

________________________

Spark and Pointer: Rick Jones

 

Today’s Ethics Understatement: “This Story Does Not Encourage Trust In The Legal Profession”

photoshoppinglawyer_screenshot

Svitlana and her fake friends

The ABA Journal informs me this morning that a California bar court judge has recommended a six-month suspension for attorney Svitlana Sangary. Oh, she has some client ethics complaints against her, but that was the least of her problems.

On her firm website, she had posted photographs showing Sangary with politicians and celebrities, including President Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George Clooney, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Morgan Freeman and Paris Hilton. An expert testified that most or all of the images were photoshopped, making them visual lies. A lawyer is not allowed to lie on her website, or anywhere else when it may mislead clients and the public.

Paris Hilton? Continue reading

Now Here’s A Terrible Idea: Mandated Disclosures for Photoshopped Images of Celebrities!

And if you look real closely at the lower left corner, you'll read, "The model for Venus was a short, middle-aged bald man named Gino. His appearance was altered by the painter in the creation of this painting."

Here is another candidate for enshrinement in the Pantheon of Well- Intentioned But Terrible Ideas.

In an article published Monday in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” Dartmouth researchers Hany Farid, a professor of computer science, and Eric Kee, a doctoral student, propose a rating system of publicly displayed photographs of models, actors and celebrities to let viewers know exactly how and how much an image has been altered by photoshopping, airbrushing or other means.

“Impossibly thin, tall, and wrinkle- and blemish-free models are routinely splashed onto billboards, advertisements and magazine covers,” the two write. “The ubiquity of these unrealistic and highly idealized images has been linked to eating disorders and body-image dissatisfaction in men, women, and children.” In the interest of limiting the damage caused by unrealistic images of human beauty, the researchers argue that graphic images should include labels that disclose  “geometric adjustments” such as slimming legs, hips and arms, as well as adjusting facial symmetry—reducing a nose in size, or slightly enlarging eyes.  Users of such photos should also flag photometric adjustments that change the appearance of skin tone, blemishes and texture, such as wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes or cellulite, say the researchers.

Please, for the love of God, nobody introduce these guys to Sarah Deming and her lawyer, who are suing the distributers of the film “Drive” because the trailer was more exciting than the movie. And let us all remember this proposal when we are tempted to pooh-pooh accusations that the government is regulating creativity, commerce, art and enterprise right out of existence, and with them, individual liberty as well.The tea parties should use Farid and Kee’s article for recruitment. Continue reading