Tag Archives: President Donald J. Trump

Morning Ethics Warm-up: 8/16/17

GOOD MORNING!

1. I’m heading to Boston and Fenway Park in a few hours to meet with two of my high school classmates and together pay our respects to the 1967 Boston Red Sox, the spiritual beginning of Red Sox Nation, and a group of men, then barely more than boys, who had as profound an effect on my life and view of it as anything I have ever experienced.

It’s the 50th Anniversary of that amazing team and the heart-stopping pennant race it won against all odds, in a four team race that came down to the final game of the regular season. I mean heart-stopping literally: the team wasn’t called “The Cardiac Kids” for nothing. TWO of my father’s colleagues at the Boston Five Savings Bank died of heart attacks while attending Red Sox games, during one of the 9th inning desperation rallies for which the team was famous. The only reason I didn’t perish in like fashion is because I was just 16 years old.

Why was this team, and that summer 50 years ago, so important to me? I don’t have time or space to answer that question well, and you’d probably wonder what I was babbling on about anyway. A 2017 film by Major League Baseball called “The Impossible Dream” does a fair job of explaining it, but it’s too short to do the job right.

I had listened to, watched or attended every Boston Red Sox game for five years, as the team lost and lost. From those bad teams, followed weakly by the city in those days, in a crumbling old park that seemed destined to be abandoned and torn down, I learned that winning wasn’t everything, that loyalty wasn’t easy, that Hemingway was right, and that baseball was about courage, humility, perseverance, doing your job every day, sacrifice, and hope, as well as usually losing at the end. That summer of 1967 taught me that hope is worth the effort even though hope is usually dashed by the ice water of reality, that you should never give up, that miracles do happen, and that nothing is as wonderful as when a community is united in a single, inspirational goal, no matter what that goal might be…and that you should never be afraid to give everything you have in pursuit of a mission, even when it is likely that you will fail.

I learned difficult, discouraging lessons, too. When an errant pitch hit Red Sox right-fielder Tony Conigliaro in the face on August 18, 1967, it was the beginning of a lesson that revealed its tragic last chapter 23 years later. That one taught me that life is horribly, frightening unpredictable, and that we envy others at our peril. It taught me that we need to do what we can to accomplish as much good as we can as quickly as we can, because we may lose our chance forever at any moment.

Tony C, as he was and is known as, was a beautiful, charismatic, local kid, the idol of Boston’s huge Italian-American community,  in his fourth season with his home town team at the age of 22. He dated movie stars; he recorded pop songs; he had a natural flair of the dramatic, and was destined for the Hall of Fame. One pitch took it all away. Although he had two comebacks and played two full seasons facing major league fastballs with a hole in his retina and his field of vision, Tony was never the same. After his final attempt to keep playing failed at the age of 30, he became a broadcaster, and at 37 was seemingly on the way to stardom again in 1982 when he suffered a massive, inexplicable heart attack—Tony  did not smoke, and had no family history of heart problems– that left him brain damaged until his death in 1990.

As Henry Wiggin, the star pitcher protagonist of the novel, play and movie “Bang the Drum Slowly” observes as he  reflects on the death of his catcher and roommate, everyone is dying, and we have to remember to be good to each other. But it’s so hard. Ethics is hard. The ethics alarms ring faintly when we are about the task of living, or not at all…

At the end of the story, the narrator, the best friend of the catcher (but not really that close a friend) recalls how quickly everyone on the baseball team went back to their selfish ways after their teammate went home to die Even the narrator, who was the leader of the effort to make the catcher feel loved and appreciated in his last days, ruefully recalls his own failing. The catcher had asked him a favor, just to send him a World Series program (the team won the pennant after he had become too ill to play), and he had forgotten to mail it until it was too late. How hard would it have been, the narrator rebukes himself, to just put it in an envelope and mail it? Why are we like that, he wonders?

1967 was the beginning of my exploration of that mystery too.

So I am going to Boston for the 30 minute ceremony. I can’t even stay for the game; I have a seminar to teach tomorrow morning, and the last flight out of Logan is at 9 PM. There will probably be just a small contingent from the Cardiac Kids: most of them are dead now, or too infirm even to walk onto the field. But Yaz will be there, and Gentleman Jim Lonborg; Rico Petrocelli, Mike Andrews, and maybe even Hawk Harrelson  and Reggie Smith. I will be there to say thank-you, that’s all.

And to show that I remember. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/15/2017

Gooood Morning, Ethics Alarms!

1. And the grandstanding goes on. CNN’s HLN repeatedly played the Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon’s undoubtedly heartfelt and gratuitous “very special episode” where he condemned racism and bigotry and saluted the victim of the vehicle attack by James Fields, saying that she was standing up for “what was right.” I’m sure she thought she was. She was, however, in a group that stood for the suppression of free speech and political views they have decided don’t deserve First Amendment protection. That is NOT “right.”

Shut up and be funny, Jimmy. You haven’t been given that show to make half-baked and ignorant political pronouncements, That’s Stephen Colbert’s job.

2. The President came out yesterday with an unequivocal condemnation of racism, bigotry, violence and white nationalism. The Times headline today notes this, but that “some say it was too late.” Of course “some” do.  And besides, says my allegedly rational liberal former Democratic Congressman staffer Facebook friend, it is obvious what he really believes. And besides, even if his statement hadn’t been too late, there were “dog whistles” in it, and his body language was suspicious.

I have to keep reminding myself that these people are ill, in the grip of a powerful mob mentality  and to “hate the sin, never the sinner,” as Clarence Darrow said (but probably didn’t believe).

3. Related: from Investor News Daily, via Instapundit:

“Obama never mentioned the anti-cop sentiment fomented by Black Lives Matter — with an assist from Obama himself — in his brief statement after five police officers were assassinated in Dallas. Obama did find room in those remarks to mention racist cops. Did anyone on the left complain?”

Wait—is it too late for Obama to condemn anti-white racism now? Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, Charlottesville Aftermath Edition: 8/14/2017

Charlottesville, Virginia.

Good Morning?

1. Just a side note before the serious stuff: WordPress spell-check thinks “Charlottesville” is misspelled. It says the correct spelling is “Chancellorsville.”

And you wonder why I have so many typos…

2. Either one believes in, supports and will fight for freedom of speech, expression and assembly, or one does not. Those who do not also do not genuinely believe in democracy, the Constitution, civil rights or the core principles of the United States of America. This group, which has been slowly—not so slowly, really—taking over the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, and with them that party’s institutional allies, the U.S. education system and journalism, is far, far more dangerous than the alt-right, racist fools who tried to exercise their own rights over the weekend.

At the center of the implicit rejection of the freedom to say, express, demonstrate for and hold whatever wise, creative, idiotic or hateful opinions and ideas a U.S. citizen chooses were the despicable and anti-American comments of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, ( WordPress thinks I should spell his name “Cauliflower”) who told a group of U.S. citizens that they were not welcome in his state, and that there was no place for them in the United States of America—you know, like the German Nazis told the Jews. Pathetically and dispiritingly, knee-jerk defenders of McAuliffe have spun this as mere “opprobrium,” a deflection that we technically refer to as “baloney.” When the leader of a government points to any group and says, “Get out!” based solely on what the group says and believes, that’s totalitarian oppression. It also paints a bullseye on the backs of every member of that group. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The Charlottesville Riots

  • Is there a clear, complete, objective account of what happened in Charlottesville? I can’t find one. I have read about “clashes” between protesters and “counter-protesters,” who we are told outnumbered the white nationalist group protesting the removal of General Lee’s statue by about 2-1. What does that mean? Was the white nationalist rally peaceful, regardless of the racist slogans they were hurling? Were the counter-protesters just shouting back, or more physical? I see references to the “fray.” What fray? The key word seems to be that the white nationalists “sparked’ violence by marching. Do we now say that the civil rights marchers in Selma sparked the violence, and not the counter-protest racists. or is the theory that which ever group has the less popular position “sparks” the violence?

My suspicions are that the vagueness of the news media reports is a deliberate effort by the news media to avoid assigning any responsibility to Antifa thugs for the escalation into violence.

  • Obviously the automobile driven into the anti-white nationalist, counter protest crowd was a criminal act. Since this was done by the racists, it became the focus of all news reports, as if this was the only violence.

Was it? Somehow I doubt that.

  • Again, a counter-protest group “incites violence” as much as a protest group. The reaction from the news media and the political pundits appears to ignore the basic fact that Americans have the right to demonstrate and express their support for repugnant ideas as well as ideas most of us approve of. This was settled (I thought) with National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977).

Apparently not.

  • President Trump’s statement regarding the riot was this:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time…We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

The immediate reaction by the newsmedia was that the statement asserted a false equivalency. CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote,

“Both sides don’t scream racist and anti-Semitic things at people with whom they disagree. They don’t base a belief system on the superiority of one race over others. They don’t get into fistfights with people who don’t see things their way. They don’t create chaos and leave a trail of injured behind them. Arguing that “both sides do it” deeply misunderstands the hate and intolerance at the core of this “Unite the Right” rally. These people are bigots. They are hate-filled. This is not just a protest where things, unfortunately, got violent. Violence sits at the heart of their warped belief system.”

Both sides do “do it,” however, and when “it” is violence and refusal to allow a group with opposing views make their statements, there is no high ground. The starting point from the left is “the white nationalists are wrong, so they don’t deserve the same rights we do.” Yes, they do, and among those rights is the opportunity to protest whatever they choose without being attacked. “These people are bigots.” So what? They have the right to express their views. “They are hate-filled.” And the counter-protesters were not “hate-filled”? Or was the President supposed to distinguish that as good hate? Continue reading

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Giant Chicken Ethics

An amazing number of readers sent me links to the story about the giant inflatable chicken with Trump hair stationed near the White House.

Is this an ethics matter? Well, let’s think about that.

As stupid protests go, this one is more entertaining than most. The chicken is intrinsically amusing.

Yet it is still just an ad hominem insult. Any group putting up an inflatable animal sporting Obama ears in a similar position would be immediately condemned as racist. Like the naked Trump statues that were put up over night in some cities, the chicken is nothing but another “I hate the President” primal scream. It’s not productive. It’s not constructive. It’s not polite. It is a less offensive gesture than hanging or burning an effigy, but just barely. It’s better than “Fuck Trump” and “Not My President!”, but this is just the “it’s not the worst thing rationalization.”

Then there is the “Back to the Future” problem. You will recall, I hope,  that in the greatest film trilogy of all time, protagonist Marty McFly’s fatal flaw was that he could not stop himself from accepting a challenge, however foolish, once he was called “chicken.” Until Marty finally overcomes this flaw, he is is doomed.

Is this really a prudent time to call President Trump a chicken?

I think not.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/9/2017

Good Morning!

1. On the matter of whether James Demore’s Google memo was unethical in its distribution, which some commenters here dispute, apparently he took the precaution of hiring an employment lawyer before he sent the memo. This strongly suggests that he was not merely opening up an internal discussion, but intentionally provoking a confrontation. If he just wanted to alert management to a problem, the ethical approach was to speak directly to management, not put out an e-mail that he had to know someone would leak to the internet.

Meanwhile, Google’s firing Demore for politely raising legitimate culture issues belies its “Don’t Be Evil” motto. It also may be illegal: Federal labor law bars union AND non-union employers alike from punishing an employee for communicating with fellow employees about improving working conditions. California also has a very strong anti-political discrimination law which “prohibits employers from threatening to fire employees to get them to adopt or refrain from adopting a particular political course of action.”

2. I noted this in yesterday’s post, but it’s worse than I thought: the left-wing news media, which is to say the news-media, has displayed neither discipline, common sense (you can’t keep signalling how biased you are, guys—eventually people will notice) nor ethical journalism by outrageously misrepresenting the message and the tone of the memo. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, for example, described the memo as saying  “I don’t really like women anywhere near a computer.” That’s false reporting. Do these people understand that anyone can read the memo and see that either they are lying, or haven’t read the memo?

3. The memo’s allegedly “controversial” statement that men and women have some innate physiological, emotional and psychological differences that make their genders (in general, not in specific cases) better or less-well-suited for certain jobs, tasks or fields takes me back to my multiple battles with feminists who insisted that I cast female actors in “Twelve Angry Men.” They simply put their fingers in their ears and hummed when I pointed out that the play was about the group dynamics when twelve disparate male strangers are locked in a room. Do women in such a situation keep threatening each other physically? I think not. Actually, the play is an advertisement for diversity: having women in that largely dysfunctional fictional jury would have probably solved many of its problems, but because women are different from men, not because they are exactly the same, as the Georgetown feminists insisted. Women really need to decide what their stand is: are they different in ways that can be advantageous, or not different at all? They can’t have it both ways. On Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds recalled “The Althouse Rule of Gender Research”, which is, : “Scientists: remember to portray whatever you find to be true of women as superior.”

This goes for commentators, pundits, journalists, educators and, of course, Presidential candidates. ‘We need a woman in the White House (because men screw things up)’ is wise and true, and not sexist at all. Continue reading

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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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