Sometimes It All Comes Together…But First, A Song!

As those who have read here for a while know, among my fondest passions, virtually life-long, are baseball,  theater and ethics. Today, I have the pleasure of seeing them all come together in a single event. How often does that happen?

At noon, I will be giving my most recent musical Continuing Legal Education ethics seminar, “Ethics Cabaret,” at Nationals Park in D.C. prior to the Mets-Nats game. “Ethics Cabaret,” like its six predecessors, presents legal ethics hypotheticals  as parodies of pop, rock, Broadway or country-western standards, presented by a professional performer. In this case, the performer is American Century Theater veteran Esther Covington, who accompanies herself on the keyboard. I write the songs that make the young lawyers cry, but she sings them, beautifully and often hilariously.

Speaking of Barry Manilow, my favorite segment of the seminar is the parody of one of his signature songs, which you can hear above—it’s an ear-worm, so be careful. The legal ethics version is about “Bridge of Spies” and the many quandaries raised in the film, which I examined in this post earlier this year. The parody is called “Who is the Client?,” lyrics-only copyrighted by ProEthics. Here they are….you can sing them along with Barry’s version! Continue reading

A Lesson In The Dangers of Wise-assery, Hindsight Bias, And Moral Luck

allan-sherman-2

Once upon a time, a fat, spectacled, pleasant amateur song parodist sold millions of records with what middle-aged college grads thought were witty musical critiques of Sixties life and culture. His name was Allan Sherman, and one of those witty songs was this:

Therein lies some useful lessons which we all should absorb:

1. What seems like a valid opinion today might well seem incredibly stupid to virtually everybody later.

2. Venturing outside your expertise is always risky.

3.  Everything seems obvious in hindsight. In most cases, it was anything but.

4. Yesterday’s wit is tomorrow’s ignorance.

5. Whether your opinion is going to make you look like a prophet or a fool is often nothing but moral luck.

6. Criticizing someone for views proven invalid by subsequent developments no one could have foreseen is consequentialism, and unfair.

7. People will do it anyway.

8. We are all Allan Sherman. We just don’t know how.

It’s hard to imagine now that John, Paul, George and Ringo are icons and deserving ones, but back in 1964 it was considered wise and clever to make fun of their hair, their fans and pronounce them untalented hacks. At the beginning of the British invasion, many sophisticates regarded the Beatles as indistinguishable from the legendary Dave Clark Five, and a passing fancy no more significant that the hula hoop.

Mock them now at your peril. Your time will come…in fact, it probably already has.

 

Oh, Great: The Head Of America Rising Is A Harry Reid Clone

Secret photograph of future GOP operatives cloned in a secret facility.

Smuggled photograph of future GOP operatives cloned in a secret facility.

Republicans need a lot of things. Their own Harry Reid—and thus their own smug, unethical, Machiavellian liar who thinks deliberately misleading the public is justified if it helps win the day—isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, the brilliant RNC scientists at its top secret Bio-ideological Warfare facilities in a bunker under Pike’s Peak have apparently made one. (And maybe many...)

Remember the name Colin Reed (they cleverly changed the spelling to hide the fact that he was cloned from Harry’s nose hair clippings), and then forget anything you hear from his conservative opposition research hit-group America Rising. What good is an opposition research hit-group that can’t be trusted to be fair and accurate about what it finds? None, unless you favor slander and cheating. You know..like Harry.

This week, Reed’s Breitbart wannabe released a video that purported to show Hillary Clinton blowing off a supporter who asked for an autograph while she campaigned in New Hampshire. Conservative Hillary-Haters immediately went into overdrive, led by Reed himself (“Maybe these New Hampshire voters would have better luck getting Secretary Clinton’s attention if they wrote a six-figure check to the Clinton Foundation or were a highly-vetted political activist at one of her staged campaign events,” he said.) as the clip went viral. The problem was that the video was deliberately edited to omit Clinton’s actually signing the autograph as the woman beamed and took a photo. Continue reading

I’m Dreaming Of A Zombie Christmas

Zombie Nativity

I didn’t say it was a pleasant dream.

Hmmm, how should I describe this? I would say that a law is being used to violate the First Amendment rights of an unethical jerk who is intent on abusing them.

Or, in the alternative, Jasen Dixon may just be an idiot.

Sycamore Township, which is just outside Cincinnati, has responded to complaints by neighbors by applying various ordinances against Dixon’s unusual Nativity scene that he constructed in his front yard. It features life-size figures portraying Joseph and Mary as the walking dead, and a zombie baby Jesus, who has pale skin and pure white eyes. Here, here’s a close-up of Zombie Baby Jesus:

Zombie-nativity-scene

Awwwww!

Dixon suspects that the township laws, which prohibit structures in the front or the side yard of a residence that occupy more than 35 percent of its total area, and require that the primary structure must be 3 feet from the street and 6 feet from the dwelling, are really being selectively enforced against him because his holiday display offends some people….well, almost everyone. I suspect this as well.

Poor Jason says he doesn’t mean any harm: he’s just doing the best he can to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. “I wanted a Nativity and I worked with what I had,”  says Dixon, who manages a nearby haunted house called “The 13 Rooms of Doom.” He says his First Amendment rights are being infringed.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years and I’ve never had a violation of any kind,” Dixon said. “It’s a holiday decoration. I know if it was a real pretty Nativity scene they wouldn’t be saying anything.”

I’ll agree with that too. Continue reading