Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/18: Sunday Potpourri

Good Morning!

1. Now THIS is a bribe…Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer and a prominent Republican political donor “demanded” yesterday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians. “For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

The only ethical GOP response is, “Bye!” Donors may not tie their support to specific legislative measures. That’s a quid pro quo. a bribe. The party should—I would prefer “must”—respond by officially and publicly telling Hoffman that its elected officials  will do what they believe is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation, and he is free to contribute to whatever he deems appropriate.

Moreover, his statement shows that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is yet another “Do something!” yelp.

2. Yet more anti-gun hysteria...Could there be a more nakedly emotional and irrational headline than this one in today’s Sunday Times: “Why Wasn’t My Son the Last School Shooting Victim?”(That’s the print version…the online headline is different.)

3. I may have to put “cultural appropriation” on my list of things have to flag every time it’s used…From a New York Times article about Wes Anderson’s new animated film about dogs exiled to a miserable island in the wake of “dog flu” comes this astounding cut-line:

“Critics Address The Issue Of Cultural Appropriation In ‘Isle of Dogs'”

It seems the American director’s work here is influenced by the films of iconic Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.  The Horror. Hey, what the hell business does Japan have running  professional baseball leagues? Here’s a quick poll as a warm-up for the Warm-Up:

4. Which reminds me, as most things do, of baseball...Three of the unethical tendencies of professional journalists that make me crazy were all on display in a brief 5 minute exchange between hosts on MLB’s satellite radio channel. (Which hosts? I no longer distinguish among them: they all are devoid of ethics understanding and analytical skills.) The three are misinforming the public and making them ignorant and stupid, flogging false narratives created by the media itself, and consequentialism. A little baseball background is necessary here, so bear with me, non-baseball fans.

In 2011, the Red Sox team managed by Terry Francona, the most successful and popular manager in Boston franchise history, blew a huge lead with an epic September collapse, low-lighted by several poor managerial decisions in the final week. The Red Sox lost a play-off slot in the 9th inning of the final game of the season. It was a disaster, and as often and appropriately happens after a disaster, the leaders responsible paid the price: Francona was fired. The Boston sportswriters all liked Terry, and resented his demise. (I liked Terry too, but agreed with the decision.) The next  season, the team hired abrasive, cocky, outspoken Bobby Valentine as manager, and the Boston press set out to destroy him from Day #1. He was the Donald Trump of baseball managers, but more articulate. Then everything, and I mean everything, went wrong. Major stars were seriously injured. Both closers fell apart. Every starting player except David Ortiz had the worst season of their career, and Ortiz knocked out of the season early by an injury. None of this was attributable to Valentine, but the sportswriters blamed him anyway, and fed the Boston fans daily hate columns until they were a screaming mob. (At the time, I went on various radio shows and challenged writers to rebut my contention that no manager alive or dead could have had a winning season with the 2012 Red Sox. None could. Nevertheless, Valentine was fired. Two years later, Terry Francona was hired to manage the Cleveland Indians, a team on the rise, and he has had notable success.

Yesterday, the two MLB ethics dunces said, in rapid sequence..

  • that the Sox firing Francona was a “mistake.” Why was it a mistake? Because he had managed another team successfully since, and because the Sox had a terrible year after he was fired. Flagrant consequentialism. Francona’s Indians could have just as easily had a bad luck year when he returned, and Valentine could have led the Red Sox to a championship if the players had stayed healthy and played to form. (They won the World Series the very next year with an inferior manager, because the team stayed healthy.) None of this was known to Red Sox management or within their control when the decision to fire Francona was made. I know this is a high bar, but I’ll set it: no one is qualified to be a pundit or expert on anything who doesn’t understand moral luck.
  • that hiring Valentine was a disaster.  This was the narrative dreamed up by the vicious Boston writers, and even though it is unfair and misleading, it is still repeated to this day. The narrative successfully kept Valentine from getting another managing job.

In both instances, the unethical reasoning used by “experts” is passed along as valid to a gullible and mostly ethically inept public, making them less-informed and less-competent.

5. The Good Tweet...I don’t think the President should be tweeting at all, but I criticize his worst tweets, and its only fair to acknowledge a good one once in a while, which this one is:

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

6. Segue Alert! NBC is continuing its role in furthering the discord by hiring U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, the openly gay Olympic team bronze medalist who exploited his visibility on the Olympic team to insult both Vice President Pence and President Trump. He’ll be an NBC correspondent during the remainder of the Olympics, NBC spokesman Greg Hughes announced.

NBC is taking sides with this move, and a side specifically antagonistic to the President and Vice-President. Ethical news organizations are not supposed to have “sides.” The hire is also transparent pandering. Yechh.

21 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/18/18: Sunday Potpourri

  1. Should anyone care what people get up to at home as long as they execute their work with professionalism, integrity and responsibility? Apparently, what people get up to at home and then use as a bludgeon publicly is the primary qualifying factor for NBC. In short they will force you to accept, not just tolerate, or switch the channel.

    Notice VP Pence’s positive comments to all on the team in response to Rippon’s pursuit of personal confrontation was almost entirely ignored by the media. Shocking! (not)

    Johnny Weir, despite his somewhat distracting attire, is an excellent teacher of figure skating and good humored analyst and commentator. In a similar context, we all pretty much knew Dick Button might have been doing something different than most at home, but he, again, executed the factors mentioned above with grace and responsibility.

    No one cares until tolerance is forced into becoming acceptance of all demands. This goes for so many things in our society.

  2. 6. Thanks for the alert. I just stopped watching the Olympics. Other family still put it on the TV, so I’ll still be noting the sponsors so I can contact them to let them know that I won’t be buying their products for as long as they sponsor sporting events on NBC where Adam Rippon is a commentator. I’ll probably write to the White House too, and get a national movement going. A movement to “Rip Off Rippon,” juuuust like the Flush Rush movement.

    • Rippon flushed himself from the NBC job, evidently.
      He’s probably got his weenie hard for bigger things.
      Oh well, while he’s shaking his sexy ass and “speaking truth to power,” I’ll still be screaming hate at his bullshit.

  3. You say “Donors may not tie their support to specific legislative measures”. How can you think that? Linking financial contributions to specific legislation is surely at the heart of US politics? Isn’t this what most of the lobbyists are doing? Why are you silent when such dealings are on say corporate tax or environmental protection but suddenly critical when the subject is gun controls?

    • Andrew,

      What Jack said is simply donors cannot predicate a donation for specific legislation in return.. As for lobbyists, some make campaign donations and some do not, some even make them to both candidates to obtain access. Most lobbying firms push single issues so again predicating a donation/gift on favorable legislation is quid pro quo and a big no no. It is more likely to be seen as a bribe if it comes from a lobbyist.

      • Thank you Chris. Maybe they ‘cannot’ ( or should not) but clearly they ‘do’ make donations which are contingent on support for their particular agendas, as do many of us. Al Hoffman may well have been clumsy in his choice of words but his message is clear ……. and to my mind he has every right (in ethics if not in law) to express it. Democracy needs a messaging route whereby constituents express their views to their representatives, whether it be about wars, immigration, fixing the national debt, or guns. Whether the representatives respond is of course up to them, but superficial observation suggests big donors secure significant influence, and on occasions can be quite ruthless as to how they use it.

    • If directors being inspired by other directors is cultural appropriation, then non-native born Americans learning from teachers is cultural appropriation. Let’s kick them out…right?

      • Texagg04,
        You clearly gave no understanding of the way cultural appropriation works. The subjugated culture cannot appropriate the oppressor culture. Adopting the culture of the oppressor is a survival mechanism; it is not appropriation.

        See how that works?

        (Honestly, that’s how it works in their view.)


        • I mean, I get the “angle” that shows I’m wrong… (except it’s patently illogical…as are all the SJW mini-Crusades), and I’ll readily admit that I tossed that line together rather quickly, but 1) I don’t think I’m wrong, 2) I kinda wanted to toss in a resource that I think a lot of EA commenters would enjoy viewing. It’s a YouTube channel called “Every Frame a Painting”. The guy doesn’t produce anymore but he has a couple dozen episodes where he explores various artistic techniques and shows successful and failed uses of those techniques throughout movies. Really interesting and will change the way you evaluate your movie-going experience. (Though I’m not sure he’s right about everything he asserts)

        • This is where progressive get a big ‘bite me’ from most of America. If I cannot eat your ethnic food or wear my hair a certain way, good luck not using any of the hundreds of modern inventions made by American culture.

          This is why we cannot have nice things.

  4. Re: #4 – Consequential in that when you go 7-20 in September & have the 2nd biggest collapse in MLB history, some one has to pay. And it won’t be the GM or players. Who was their GM: Theo Epstein. I was at that game. They had the lead until the long rain delay occurred in the 7th. The Sox & their fans were quite cocky; there was no way they were going to lose to the Os. Right up until the end.

    Should Francona have been fired? Probably. Probably too the writers had a hand in it, though they deny it. He wasn’t even a .500 manager with the Phillies in the 90s & got more credit than he deserved when the Sox won. On the other hand, I say he wins in 2016 if it wasn’t for that rain delay in the world series. Who was that GM with the Cubs? Theo Epstein! Sometimes the baseball gods smile on you, others not. Not even in 2017 for Terry in the playoffs.

    I also was at #5, when the Mets lost to the Phillies the last day of the season. And coming from Philly, I still hurt from 1964. So I know about collapses. (But not this year in football for me!) In looking over these 3, all occurred on the road, all had a sense of inevitability about them, all had pitchers with tired arms, and all managers made key mistakes at the end. The front runners are also hurt by September call-ups, when rosters expand to 40 players. The losers get to use everyone, while the leaders have to play their best.

    • I didn’t know you were at that game, which I listened to while driving to Richmond. Francona batted a September call-up clean-up, and the O’s kept walking Ortiz in front of him. Papelbon had a lead, and blew the save. Carl Garrett, an utter slug all season after signing a huge contract, failed to make the kind of catch on the winning hit by Andino that he was supposed to make with ease. All month, Francona let Daniel Bard lose games when he was obviously arm dead. He sacrificed game after game to let Tim Wakefield get his 200th win. The major architects of the failed season were Crawford, John Lackey, and Adrian Gonzalez, who had a great season by most measurements but brought negative intensity and leadership. All of those were Theo’s signings. Both he and Francona needed to go.

      We should go to a game sometime.

  5. 5. The Good Tweet…I don’t think the President should be tweeting at all, but I criticize his worst tweets, and its only fair to acknowledge a good one once in a while, which this one is:

    “If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

    So…the president concedes that it was the goal of Russia to spread division within the country, and then responds not with a condemnation of Russia or a pledge to do anything at all about them, but by attacking the opposition party and the intelligence agencies tasked with investigating Russia.

    And this is a “good tweet?”

    Yes, they’re laughing their asses off in Moscow. At Trump. They could not have asked for a better pawn, and whether he’s a witting one or an unwitting one, he is inarguably their pawn at this point.

  6. We were there with other advocacy groups to support legislation that would temporarily restrict access to guns by people who pose a danger to themselves or others.

    So how does she expect this to make it harder for gangbangers to get guns?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.