Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/1/2017: Puerto Rico, Baseball Ethics, And Good Riddance To Hugh Hefner

Gooood Morning October!

1 And with October comes the wonderful post-season of that all-American sports that does not leave its athletes with brain disease, that requires some erudition and an attention span longer than a terrier puppy’s to appreciate, and that does not subject its fans to incoherent political theater as part of the price of watching a game. Yes, “it’s baseball, Ray.”

Yesterday the Boston Red Sox finally clinched the America League East title, the first time in over a century that this perverse team has won a championship in consecutive years. In other words, nothing can spoil my mood today.

There are a couple of baseball ethics notes, too:

  • In Miami, Giancarlo Stanton has one last game to hit his 60th home run, which would make him the sixth major league to reach that mark in baseball history. Two of the six, Babe Ruth, whose 60 homers in 1927 stood as the season record for 34 years, and Roger Maris, the Yankee who broke the record with 61 in something of a fluke season, reached the mark fairly. The other three, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, were steroid cheats. Ever since Stanton caught fire after the All-Star break and looked for a while as if he would exceed 61, wags have been saying that he would become the “real” record holder, since the totals of Mark, Sammy and Barry ( 73, the current record, in 2001) shouldn’t count. Of course they should count. They have to count. The games were official, the runs counted, the homers are reflected in the statistics of the pitchers, the teams, and records of the sport. Bonds should have been suspended before he broke any records, but baseball blew it. Saying his homers (and Sosa’s, and McGwire’s) don’t count is like arguing that Samuel J. Tilden, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton were elected President.

Integrity exists in layers, and the ultimate integrity is accepting reality. The 1919 Reds won the World Series, fixed or not. O.J. is innocent in the eyes of the law, and Roger Maris no longer holds baseball single season home run record.

  • In Kansas City, manager Ned Yost did something gracious, generous, and strange. The Royals, a small market team that won two championships with a core of home grown, low-visibility stars, now face losing all or most of them to big free agent contracts that the team simply cannot afford. Fans are often bitter about such venal exits, and teams usually fan the flames of resentment: better that the market be angry at the players than the organization. After Red Sox fan favorite Johnny Damon, a popular symbol of the 2004 World Series winning club, left for greener pastures in the New York Yankees outfield, he was jeered every time he came to bat in Fenway Park for the rest of his career.

But Ned Yost, who will be left with a shell of his team and a new bunch of kids to manage in KC next year, was not going to let the players who made him a winner depart amidst anger and recriminations. During yesterday’s 4-3 victory in front of the home crowd at Kauffman Stadium, Yost engineered an emotional curtain call for all four of the players who were probably playing their last games as Royals.

He pulled them from the game, one by one, all while the team was in the field or the player on the bases, so each could get a long standing ovation: Eric Hosmer in the moments before the fifth inning; Mike Moustakas with one out in the sixth. Lorenzo Cain for a pinch runner. Alcides Escobar in the middle of the seventh.


And none of them took a knee on the way out…

2. I have been researching to find any objective reports that support the claim that the federal government and FEMA are not doing their best to help Puerto Rico. There aren’t any. There are plenty of videos of the devastation, but even the New York Times, which is the head cheerleader for anti-Trump porn, has only been able to muster headlines about the relief effort being criticized. All of my Facebook friends writing—it’s really dumb, everybody—about how Trump is uncaring as they signal their virtue by telling us how their hearts go out to the residents of the island literally know nothing about the relief efforts. They don’t know anything about the planning, the logistics, the problems or what is feasible. Nonetheless, they think they have standing to say that it is incompetent, or slow (which means, slower than it has to be), or, and  anyone who says this better not say it to me, based on racism. Their assertions arise out of pure partisan bias, bolstered by convenient ignorance.

Vox’s Matt Yglesias, one of the knee-jerk doctrinaire leftists in the commentary world who does an especially poor job hiding his malady,  attempted to take a shot at the Trump administration by tweeting,

“The US government supplied Berlin for nearly a year by air despite a Soviet blockade using late-1940s technology.”

This is only a valid comparison for the willfully obtuse. You can’t airlift electricity and water, or a communication and transportation infrastructure that is necessary to distribute supplies. Berlin was surrounded, but it had all of these.

What has happened is that a beleaguered mayor, perhaps one not as inept and corrupt as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, but she’s using his playbook, is trying to deflect her own citizens’ impatience and fear by blaming someone else, confident that the news media and foes of a Republican President will treat the accusations as valid. They just aren’t, at least based on what we know now. The devastation in Puerto Rico is unprecedented. Unprecedented disasters cannot be addressed as quickly as victims want, need, or expect because they are unprecedented. Yesterday Bloomberg interviewed retired Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, who knows a lot more about such operations that I do, you do, or Matt Yglesias. His comments are instructive, but the partisans whose objective is to score political points don’t want to be instructed.

One point Hendrix makes is especially worth repeating:

“Puerto Rico is an island that suffers from its position in the middle of the Caribbean and its physical separation from the U.S. Its roads were in disrepair and its electrical grid was antiquated prior to the hurricane. The island has also suffered for years from ineffective local government and rising local territorial debt.The Navy used to operate a large Navy base there, Naval Station Roosevelt Roads. I spent six months on the island in 1993, but when the island’s population protested the presence of the training range at nearby Vieques Island, the Navy shuttered the base, taking $300 million a year out of the Puerto Rican economy. I have no doubt that the federal government will be taking a hard look at large infrastructure investments and I hope that local governments look at building and general construction codes to make future buildings more hurricane survivable.”

3. The latter point bolsters President Trump’s response to the criticism wafting his way from Puerto Rico. The President is right on the facts: the devastation was magnified by incompetent government on the island, but blaming the victim always feels wrong even when it is justified. As this President always does and always will do, Trump had to start tweeting insults; he could not sit back and let less powerful people attack him, even when his returning fire is perceived as punching down, even when it galvanizes his political enemies. It’s foolish; it’s unpresidential; it’s petty.

It’s Trump.

Then again, Bush was properly silent as Nagin, as responsible for the New Orleans mess as anyone but Katrina herself, implied that the federal response was intentionally slow and thus racist, and Bush suffered grievous political and popular damage anyway. As seems to frequently be the case, Trump’s unethical response may be more effective than the ethical one, in part because his opposition today is so shameless and without ethical foundations itself.

 4. Finally, I recommend this essay, a bracing antidote to all of the libertarian  praise for the late Hugh Hefner, a man who did lasting harm to America’s culture and values while abusing a lot of women along the way. I am proud to say that I always, always, found Playboy embarrassing—I never bought one or owned one, not even to read the articles—and found Hefner’s attitudes toward women appalling before it was in fashion to find them appalling before the age of 45.

58 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/1/2017: Puerto Rico, Baseball Ethics, And Good Riddance To Hugh Hefner

  1. Any baseball record before 1947 should have an asterisk – including Ruth’s 60. Maris had the advantage of expansion in 1961 and watered-down pitching. Also, a big plus to have the Yankee lineup to help you along – they hit 240 out. Stanton has something special since PED’s are not in the picture and the pitching today is far greater with strong bullpens. I hope he hits three today.

  2. Yes thinking about it, Hefner was a controlling and predatory creep second only to Bill Cosby. Not that I am prudish and opposed to his softcore porn magazine which occasionally had an interesting article. The man himself was awful, pretentious, and should be reincarnated as a rabbit.

    • Foul. No evidence Cosby’s victims consented, whereas there is plenty of evidence the women in Hefner’s life did consent.

      I don’t think Heffner is a role model, but let’s not be comparing him to rapists. It isn’t fair to Heffner, and it’s especially unfair to Cosby’s victims.

      I’m always surprised by the feminist response to Heffner. He had the sex life he wanted, and that’s bad, I guess, because he’s a man. Meanwhile, if women have the sex life they want, that’s to be applauded. You can’t have it both ways, either the sexual revolution is good because it allows EVERYONE to have the sex life they want-provided both parties consent, or the sexual revolution isn’t good because it allows everyone to have the sex life they want provided there’s consent. It can’t possibly be good because women get to have the sex lives they want, but bad because men get to have the sex lives they want.

      All that being said, my limited understanding of the man is that, for all his gains and for all the benefits of his lifestyle, he never really acquired much joy. As I’m fond of reminding my wife, EVERYONE pays the price for who they are EVENTUALLY. I think Heffner paid it in his own life, and I think those who don’t see that are distracted by the blonds and the riches. There are deeper, more sublime pleasures in this world, and Mr. Heffner never had the ability to taste the vast majority of them.

  3. 4. Just to pile on: about half a dozen of the accusations against Bill Cosby involve his relationship with Hefner, Playboy, or the Playboy Mansion in some way. These include the allegation most recent in time, from 2008, and the one involving a minor from 1974, which seems to be alive in the courts of California.

  4. Check the formatting on this article. The numbering is completely off, and you started talking about Puerto Rico in the same paragraph you were talking about Hefner.

  5. I am saddened to see you providing cover for Trump’s shameful response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. You are severely uninformed on this topic, and this post and your earlier comments confirm that your obsession with finding fault with the media is blinding you to Trump’s incompetence and lack of concern for American lives.

    In another thread, you wrote:

    Here is a good explanation of the Jones Act, none of which has any relevance to the ethical issue of the US being unfairly attacked because the news media and Democrats need a new club to beat Trump with…since all the others are broken or made of cheese….

    If you seriously think the relevant ethical issue here is the US being unfairly attacked because the news media and Democrats need a new club to beat Trump with, and not Trump refused to do everything he could to help one of our territories as soon as possible because he is more interested in golfing and tweeting, I don’t know what to tell you. Your priorities are completely backwards.

    Eight members of Congress asked for a Jones Act waiver on Monday. Trump did not lift the waiver until Thursday, and he explained why: “a lot of people that work in the shipping industry don’t want the Jones Act lifted.” In other words, sure, people are dying, but what really matters is what shipping industry lobbyists want. He also brought up Puerto Rico’s debt in a series of tweets. And it’s unfair to conclude that he lacks empathy? Are you kidding me?

    As seems to frequently be the case, Trump’s unethical response may be more effective than the ethical one, in part because his opposition today is so shameless and without ethical foundations itself.

    Effective at what?!

    • Honest question: have any of these congresspeople tried to revert the Jones act during their tenure or plan to do so in the short term by introducing a bill with that goal? If not, they are as bad as Trump by the standards in your comment.

        • Good for McCain. As to laws that should be generally upheld but waived during disasters I think the opposite is better. Disasters require more restrictions to maintain order, not less. In general as laws that can be waived during a disaster should not have been enacted to begin with.

      • “In other words, sure, people are dying, but what really matters is what shipping industry lobbyists want”

        Or, in other words, it was difficult, and that’s why it took until Thursday? Otherwise doing it at all makes no sense.

        • It wasn’t difficult–he had already used the same waiver twice before in recent months. It happened Thursday because public outrage demanded that it happen.

    • All your blather at the beginning, Chris, is backed up by nothing. Put up or shut up. The primary problems in the Puerto Rico relief effort are not the Jones Act, and to read the Trump bashers, you would think that he signed the law himself, and did so to spite Puerto Rico. My comparison wit the Emoluments clause is apt. Seriously: you’re going to hang your hat on the difference between Monday and Thursday, when the law has other applications than just this one? Do you spin everything?

      • You perfectly well know the answer to that rhetorical question. Chris knows he’s wrong on the facts, so he resorts to pounding the podium with emotional gobbledygook. Spinning is what he does, because it’s the only weapon he has available. Hammer, nail, you know the rest.

      • In fact, the more I think about your nonsense here the more annoying it is. What “details” do you know? The San Juan mayor has been thoroughlu exposed and rebutted. What do you know about disaster relief, or planning and executing it? Hendrix is, in fact, an expert. He is also not a partisan critic, like Obama’s FEMA chief….who also has no first hand knowledge of Puerto Rico. The perpetual Trump Lynch Mob is obsessed with the Jones Act because it’s low hanging fruit, but suspending laws is never something to do casually, no matter what the reason. Your logical faculties are just poisoned by partisan bias, Chris. I’m amazed it doesn’t hurt.

        • The perpetual Trump Lynch Mob is obsessed with the Jones Act because it’s low hanging fruit, but suspending laws is never something to do casually, no matter what the reason.

          Except Trump had already waived the Jones Act twice this year in response to other hurricanes, despite initially denying the waiver for Puerto Rico. There is nothing “casual” about doing the same for Puerto Rico.

          The bias is all yours. You are denying the obvious here as part of your obsessive crusade against the media.

        • Anyone else notice San Juan’s mayor simpering about starving while standing in the middle of all those pallets of food? I have former in-laws, including a nurse and 2 cops down there, who say that there are thousands of containers full of supplies that are sitting dockside for lack of trucks and drivers to get them where they’re needed.
          I lived on that island for 3 years almost 2 years after hurricane Hugo, and they were STILL struggling to restore services to a number of areas. Almost every time it rained, the power would go out, or the water would shut off. They’ve been fiscally irresponsible for a long time, never properly addressing their infrastructure issues while perched in hurricane alley. What did they think was going to happen?

      • The primary problems in the Puerto Rico relief effort are not the Jones Act, and to read the Trump bashers, you would think that he signed the law himself, and did so to spite Puerto Rico.

        This is a strawman, and non-responsive. Give me a good reason for the delay in signing the waiver. I suspect you didn’t because there isn’t one.

        Your assertion that “the difference between Monday and Thursday” doesn’t matter, when talking about a major disaster, is insane. Why would you write that? Are you OK?

        You claim in the post that critics of Trump’s slow response “literally know nothing about the relief efforts.” I think this guy knows:

        “If this is supposed to be the ‘drain the swamp’ president, then don’t worry about the lobbyists and do what’s needed and waive the act,” said James Norton, a former deputy assistant homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush who oversaw disaster response for the agency. “We’re talking about people here.”

    • Effective at marking unfair and dishonest criticism as unfair from the start. Years after he left office, the verdict is being consolidated that the Bush Katrina response was not the fiasco the media claimed it was.

        • “The criticism of Trump’s slow–and now, actively cruel–response to Puerto Rico is neither unfair nor dishonest.”

          Is this “slow–and now, actively cruel–response” of the “stealth-like” variety, in that it’s so stealthy that it’s invisible?

          To wit:

          ”Angel Perez, the mayor of nearby Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, said the Trump administration has been fantastic in providing hurricane-relief aid, and suggested San Juan Mayor might better serve her city if she actually did her job by attending FEMA.

          ”Fox News Correspondent & Reporter and Attorney Geraldo Rivera, who’s Puerto Rican, is on the ground in San Juan. Rivera saw things differently too. ‘On the ground I see the suffering-but feel deeply that attacking @realDonaldTrump for the ravages of nature &neglect is politicizing tragedy,’

          ”Rivera caught up with Mayor Cruz, without her custom-made T-shirt and said she was ‘being partisan in her sharp unfair attacks,’ although he did not agree with President Trump’s most recent assessment of her criticism he point blank told the mayor: ‘I’ve been traveling around, I DON’T SEE PEOPLE DYING. I spoke to the doctors, they say they saw 53 patients and they had a person who was septic, BUT NOBODY DYING.” (bolds/caps mine)

          Nobody dying??? But, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, that’s not what Chris said.

          Hey; might that be why Mayor Cruz lost that real real nifty t-shirt?

          Fake Lefty news (forgive the redundancy) is like a festering, terminally ill patient; there’s furiously feeble resuscitation attempts made despite the dire prognosis, but when it’s flat-line time, no one wants to be caught near the corpse.

      • the verdict is being consolidated that the Bush Katrina response was not the fiasco the media claimed it was.

        Among whom is this verdict being consolidated?

  6. Re: Hefner
    I agree he was a terrible person, but between the cheap shots at libertarianism (most libertarians I know would despise him personally) and Scalia, that piece comes off as a post-Trump tantrum that uses an unfortunate situation to push a political agenda rather than a thoughtful cultural criticism.

  7. Manufactured angst by progressives. Ms. Mayor was supportive and then backtracked. Why? I assume that is not the narrative the left wished to have presented. So, let’s create a “sandal” around a Trump Tweet. This should be all about relief efforts and I can’t imagine what more one would expect? The agencies have mobilized and efforts are underway. Are they being told not to assist by Trump? It will not be instantiations and Trump can do little except make authorizations which he has done. So, he isn’t “presidential” enough – is that a surprise? A rude awakening? That is classic Trump, but it has zero impact on efforts. Let Trump and his opposition toss their laughable accusations at one another. Fine theater and little else. This process will be very long with poor infrastructure being a real handicap to relief efforts. Maybe this will now be improved? Reading Chris is like reading the talking points narrative from virtually every progressive blog I have seen.

  8. My understanding is that there are PILES of containers containing relief supplies. The hold up is a lack of DRIVERS. Since the Army is now involved, that may be fixed soon. A deuce-and-a-half is a lot easier to drive and can go more places than an 18-wheeler rig.

  9. There is no “cruel response,” and this false narrative about the relief efforts ranks second or third among the dishonest attempts to undermine the Trump administration with complete fiction maybe 4th. There have been so many. Let’s see: the SanJuan mayor, Trump’s main accuser, has been exposed as a phony: and the problem withe therelief is on the island, not in the relief effort:
    Facts just don’t matter to “the resistance,” just like logic, honesty, fairness, and democracy. Anyone jumping on this bandwagon forfeits credibility.

    • That the mayor of San Juan may not be fully engage in the recovery effort is not a defense of Trump, and does not change the fact that Trump is not fully engaged. Fully engaged presidents do not take golfing trips during national disasters. Fully engaged presidents do not express more concern for their approval ratings than for the victims of national disasters. Fully engaged presidents do not call the victims of national disasters “ingrates” who want “everything done for them.” I have told you exactly what the president could have done to marshall a quicker response, and your response was “Four days doesn’t make a difference in a national disaster.” You have yet to account for this embarrassing statement, which demonstrates the absurd lengths you will go to to make Trump look like the victim of unfair attacks when the critiques are completely valid.

    • How much of Trump’s response was primed by seeing, in the wake of Houston and Florida, the incredibly rapid and effective grass-roots response of ordinary Americans (who were the true 1st Responders), which alleviated, greatly, the governmental responses in the long run?

      If he expected the same to occur on a remote island is bad judgment, but still could have been a factor. Either way, Chris’ talking points are all pushed by a media we already know is addled by Trump-hate. So yeah, Puerto Rico response IS more complicated, nothing I’ve seen shows Trump’s response to be intentionally ‘nefarious’, and the complications the response has faced are expected.

      • “nothing I’ve seen shows Trump’s response to be intentionally ‘nefarious’ ”

        Donning a pair of industrial-strength-hardened weapons-grade-thickened ideological blinders should, if you’ll forgive me, clear things up.

      • Either way, Chris’ talking points are all pushed by a media we already know is addled by Trump-hate.

        This isn’t even an argument. “I have no counter-argument, but the media I hate for hating Trump because of his shitty behavior agrees with you, so you must be wrong” is not even remotely convincing.

        So yeah, Puerto Rico response IS more complicated, nothing I’ve seen shows Trump’s response to be intentionally ‘nefarious’, and the complications the response has faced are expected.

        Strawman. No one has argued that his response is “intentionally nefarious.” Lack of caring isn’t nefarious. Incompetence isn’t nefarious.

        Trump is a bad person, who we know does not care about people suffering because he said so himself:

        That doesn’t mean he is actively trying to hurt the people of Puerto Rico. It means he doesn’t care. He only started caring when people started criticizing him.

        I thought Kanye was absolutely wrong when he said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” I never doubted that Bush had a good heart. Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. There is no denying that.

        • Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. There is no denying that.

          So what?

          Tell me that ANY of the Clintons care about anyone but themselves. Or the Kennedys. Or the Obamas. Or John McCain, Ron Paul, or (insert your favorite national politician here)

          Spare me the ‘trumped’ up outrage, Chris

            • So answer the question I asked, not the one you wanted to answer. Your answer applied to Obama when he denied a disaster declaration during the West Texas wildfires. Same for his disregard for entire towns devastated by tornadoes… or floods. If they were in red areas the chances of federal help was far lower, and we here in these areas noticed.

              This is not new. Politicians are crooks. Acting like Trump is any different is ignorant at best, intentional propaganda at worst.

  10. This from Julian Zelizer:

    “What has President Trump done with his power to tweet? The most important use of this medium has been to stir social and political divisions, aggravating deeply rooted cultural tensions within the national psyche. We have seen this at numerous points in this presidency, including recently with his tepid response to white racist protesters in Charlottesville and his blasts against African-American players protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. These are not “dog-whistles,” but megaphones, which he uses to get across his message loud and clear. And in his latest tweet about Puerto Ricans, he appears to be comfortable using his words to reinforce obvious social stereotypes about their being lazy or “uppity” that are extraordinarily damaging.I’

    I’m getting to be a fan of Trump’s tweeting. He’s only divisive if you think he’s wrong for pushing back against all the lefty Authentic Frontier Gibberish. He’s only divisive because he’s standing up to divisive baloney. He’s only divisive because he’s not Obama or Bernie or Hillary. And guess what, that’s what his voters wanted: Someone to push back against all the lefty baloney.

  11. In disaster relief of such magnitude, first response should be ROWPUs (reverse osmosis water purifiers) and road building equipment.

    You have 3 days before people die of thirst. But when infrastructure is wrecked, while helos can reticulate water and medicines to reduce death toll, you need roads to ship in the kilotons of supplies. You need roads so drivers can get to where the trucks are too.

    You need wharf building and runway repair equipment, the sooner it’s in, the more will be saved. You can’t save everyone, not in the general case.

    For my sins, I’ve been involved with modelling disaster relief logistics.

    From the info I’ve seen, which may not be reliable, the problem is insufficient helos initially allocated to reticulate emergency supplies to regions lacking communications, plus inadequate road infrastructure due to lack of adequate construction resources.

    Goods are coming in in reasonable quantities, but the mobile hospitals aren’t where the casualties are, diesel isn’t reaching backup generators, and now responders are reaching remote hospitals, all those who were in ICUs are already dead.

    For whatever reason, the is sent to Haiti in the first 72 hrs was far more effective, 5 times the number of helos and more construction troops. This may be due to sheer unavailability due to maintenance downtime from them being worn out by previous efforts in TX and FL. It may also be due to a more leisurely pace of operations due to the administrative hash in DC.

    From working with first responders, I’m concerned they may literally be working themselves to death trying to help. There’s only so much locals can do to help themselves lacking power, water, or means to travel, and the psychological stress on body recovery teams even in TX was bad enough.

  12. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a libertarian, and though Hefner was within his rights, the lifestyle he heroicized is appalling, and the devastation to our culture cannot be undone.

    That being said, was the culture not already ready for someone like him to offer what he offered… if it wasn’t Hefner, it would have been someone else.

    • As I said before, I’m ok with the softcore porn centerfolds featured in Playboy and the naughty articles featured in Cosmo. However, how can you state that “if it wasn’t Hefner, it would have been someone else.” This is a bogus argument.

      • I don’t think so. Hefner was successful because the culture was primed for the ‘service’ he provided. In a nation of a couple hundred million people, there were enough Hefner-types, that if he didn’t provide the ‘service’ or the embodiment of the lifestyle, some other ‘playboy’ would have.

        Hefner had an awful effect on our culture, but that doesn’t mean the culture didn’t have some deep weaknesses that weren’t ripe for Hefner exploiting those weaknesses.

  13. Dan Savage’s tweet in response to all this – the PR refugees can take their revenge by settling in swing states and voting Democrat. What a peach of a way to politicize even the best response.

      • Quite simple. Migrate to one of the 50 states, which as U.S. citizens they are free to do, establish residency, register, vote.

        • Aha… quit living in PR, actually reside in a state where they see how different things are.

          See, they come from a ‘welfare state,’ effectively. Moving to a comfortable like minded state would not change demographics: those are already blue states. For the most part, Red states would not have these ‘amenities’ they are used to.

          This is my opinion on why this is an invalid argument.

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