Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2018: The “Blotto From A Sleepless Night Fuming About Nobody Stopping That Puppy From Being Stuffed In The United Overhead Luggage Bin” Edition

Good Morning, United!

Where’s that whimpering sound coming from?


1 Don’t make America stupid, ABC. The new ABC legal drama “For The People” premiered last night, and lost me forever. I can’t trust the writers. In the final moments of the episode, a veteran female defense lawyer was consoling a young lawyer who was upset after losing a case. The older lawyer evoked the memory of a 1951 rookie for the New York Giants, who went hitless in his first Major League games and was devastated. But his manager put him in the line-up again, and he hit a home run in his first at bat, and never stopped hitting.

“Ah,” said the young lawyer, “Willie Mays. The greatest player who ever lived.” The older lawyer nodded sagely.

By no measure was Willie Mays the greatest baseball player. Is this racial politics by series creator Shonda Rhimes? I assume so: there is no other plausible explanation. The odds of two randomly selected baseball fans asserting that Mays was the greatest baseball player would only be more than miniscule if anyone who knows baseball believed that. Willie was the greatest centerfielder of all time, the greatest African-American player of all time, quite possibly the most charismatic and entertaining player to watch of all time, and very possibly the second most gifted baseball player of all time. But he wasn’t the greatest. The best player by every measure, statistical, modern analytics, WAR, JAWS, OPS, contemporary reports and common sense was, of course, Babe Ruth. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, a great pitcher before that, and no athlete in any sport ever dominated it like Babe did in the Twenties.

Now, any individual can hold an eccentric opinion that Willie was better. But that was not how the assertion was presented. It was presented as an accepted fact that two random baseball fans agreed upon. This is irresponsible misrepresentation. I was trying to think of an equivalent: I think it’s like a TV show having someone quote the Declaration of Independence, and a listener then  say, “Thomas Jefferson. Our greatest President!” as the other individual nods sagely.

2. Four Regans, or, if you prefer, Linda Blair Heads.This is the new Ethics Alarms graphic for unethical media spin. The number of Regans can range from one to four, with four Regans signifying “spinning so furiously her head might fall off.” (If you don’t get the reference, you are seriously deficient in cultural literacy.) The four Regans go to the polar news media spinning yesterday’s special election in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have narrowly won a seat in a Republican stronghold, though the race is still too close to call.

On CNN, the reporting was openly gleeful. This race proves, we were told, that the “blue wave” that will restore the House to Democrats (and , though this was not mentioned explicitly, allow it to impeach Donald Trump) is coming! The mainstream news media so wishes this “blue wave ” to happen that everything is spun to show that it will happen. As with the freak Alabama special election that put a Democrat in the Senate from a conservative stronghold, the 18 District result is the product of sui generis conditions:

  • The Republican who vacated the seat, thus mandating the election, did so after being exposed as a despicable hypocrite, pressuring his mistress to have an abortion while posing as an anti-abortion activist. Yechh. No wonder the GOP’s name is mud there.
  • Lamb is younger, more energetic, and more attractive that his opponent, Rep. Rick Saccone, who looks and sounds like a tired, standard issue pol.
  • Lamb is pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-fracking, and anti-Pelosi. He could be a Republican.
  • Saccone, unlike his disgraced predecessor, is anti-union in a unions stronghold.

As with the Alabama Senate race, this Democratic victory proves that if one party has an infinitely more appealing candidate that isn’t an extremist, that party is likely to win. The “blue wave” posits a far-left slate of Democrats taking over Congress, not crypto-Republicans like Lamb. Never mind: CNN mentioned none of this. It was spinning like Linda Blair’s head in a gale.

Fox News, meanwhile, was spinning in the opposite direction. Lamb WAS a Republican, kind-of, really, said Steve Doocy. And since some polls had predicted that Lamb would win big, the narrow margin  shows that President Trump’s campaigning for Saccone almost turned the election around. Anyway, the seat will only be Democratic until the end of this year, since the 18th is being re-gerrymandered by court order, and the Republicans will get another crack at it in November.

That last part is true, but it doesn’t mean that the loss is insignificant.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an objective, reliable news source that could give us balanced political analysis without reminding us of “The Exorcist?”

3.  About those “inclusion riders.” How many Oscar watchers knew what Best Actress Frances McDormand meant when she endorsed “inclusion riders” in her acceptance speech? Inclusion riders are requirements in a star’s contract that a movie be staffed with a required number of women and minorities. It is, in essence, contractually-demanded discrimination. Of course, the goal is “diversity,” but the method requires hiring artists and workers according to their gender, ethnicity and color rather than qualifications, experience or talent.

Joanna Williams writes about them here.  The concept is unethical.

4. Stephen Hawking, Ethics Hero. Stephen Hawking has died, about 55 years after he was diagnosed with ALS and told he had two years to live. In that time, he wrote books, made discoveries, hosted TV specials, enlightened us, and was a guest star on “The Simpsons.” The genius had financial resources most desperately ill people do not, but he still is a prime example of why one never should descend into despair while life remains.  He made more of his diminished existance than most people do with their lives who are in the peak of health, and became the best argument yet against making euthanasia and assisted suicide societal norms.

It is easier to “keep buggering on” as Winston Churchill said, when one has no other choice.

5. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up! If anyone can make sense out of this, please feel free to let me in on the secret.

Senator Elizabeth Warren told “Meet the Press” that she would never submit to a DNA test that could confirm her much-derided claim of Native American ancestry.  Why not?

“I know who I am. And never used it for anything. Never got any benefit from it anywhere,” she said.  Hmmm. She did, in fact, “use it,” listing herself as a minority when she was applying for teaching positions.   Then Warren said,

“My mother and daddy were born and raised in Oklahoma. My daddy first saw my mother when they were both teenagers. He fell in love with this tall, quiet girl who played the piano. Head over heels. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American. They eventually eloped . . . That’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our mom and our dad, from our grandparents. It’s a part of me and nobody’s going to take that part of me away.”

There are many translations of this obvious dodge, none of which are flattering to Warren, her honesty, her candor, or her integrity:

  • This is my truth.”
  • That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”
  • “If I don’t know that what I say is false, nobody can accuse me of lying!”
  • “Why should I care about facts? I’m a progressive!”
  • And, of course, my late father’s favorite, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!”


Pointer (Inclusion riders): Advice Goddess Blog


62 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/14/2018: The “Blotto From A Sleepless Night Fuming About Nobody Stopping That Puppy From Being Stuffed In The United Overhead Luggage Bin” Edition

  1. 1. There are two era’s in baseball: The first ended in 1947 and that is when the second began. Ruth was the premier player of that first era and Mays the second.

  2. I think we can assume that Warren has submitted a DNA test, (probably through a trusted friend), and is well aware of the results. Were she even a tiny bit Native American, a carefully staged announcement would have happened.

      • Thing is, Warren could be 1/64th or 1/32 or hell even 1/16 (which I think is the the bare minimum some tribes permit before registering as a member) and it still wouldn’t make her any more Indian than someone fresh off the boat from Scandinavia. She’s had 0 cultural influence from Indian tribes, she had 0 effective upbringing by that culture.

        I take it on word of my ancestors that (based on tracing that ancestor back) I’m at least 1/64th or 1/32 Choctaw…never mind influences from other ancestors I haven’t researched.

        Big deal. I’m not an Indian. Neither is Elizabeth Warren. She could be 1/8th for all anyone should care. It doesn’t make her understand the culture one bit better. There’s nothing magical in the blood.

        I’d bet she does have a drop or two of indian blood in her. She won’t reveal it because 1/32 or 1/16 or whatever miniscule amount it would end up being will look just as stupid as 0/16ths as an argument that she has any meaningful cultural link with Native Americans…

    • I think we also can assume that Warren has always known she is absolutely no part Native American. She used it her “story” for her own benefit because no one would ever dare demand proof of the allegation. The Good Senator is, and has always been a fraud.


      • I may have told this story before, but I just love it about Ms. Stolen Valor. Her campaign headquarters in Brockton, Ma was right next to a pizza joint I occasionally stopped at. One day I pop into the headquarters with a $99
        coupon for DNA testing. Needless to say, I was threatened with arrest and one jackel told me she’ll file assault charges against me. What? I then showed her Mr. Phone running and recording. Shall I make the call for you? I left, but it made my day.

  3. I think that I can reverse-engineer the thought process: pre-integration players were all playing in separate diluted talent pools, because all of the best players couldn’t participate together. Thus, all of their achievements have to be sharply discounted to reflect the reduced level of competition.

  4. No, Jack, the only one of value is when folks of color were allowed to play. All you have to do is look at the career stats leaders to see the statistical influence of an influx of players of color had on the game. Many would say Martin Dihugo may have been the most versatile of all players, And how many games did “Double-Duty” Radcliff win while getting his estimated 4,000 hits? Even Ruth gave more than a tip of his cap to Josh Gibson.

    Consensus? Maybe if you wish to use the statistical evidence it appears so and I can toss out all the traditional and metrics to back it up, but on my mind (and many others) there will always be an asterisk.

    As far as partitions you can go even further back to pre-dead ball era.

    • Yet there was not any wild change in player performance as a result of the end of baseball apartheid, nor would it have effected Ruth at all, for the simple reason that he was so much better than his contemporaries. One can make the same kind of argument about the influx of Hispanic and South American players, who now significantly outnumber blacks.

      • My contention is great players would be great players in any era. Ruth was physically similar to players one would see today. You can actually see the crazy connections on baseball-reference. I just think of what an amazing game it would have been determining who is better? Ruth, Foxx or Gibson? Mule Suttles or Lou Gehrig? “Pop” Lloyd or Honus Wagner? Elizabeth Warren or Barry Bond for the better cheat?

        • The greatest era of baseball was when the average player’s fitness level was one step less healthy than the Olympic Curling team’s and the player was still labelled as an athlete. Back when a balanced sport diet was hot dogs and beer right before the game.

          • As John Kruk would say: “I’m not an athlete I’m a baseball player.” Baseball is the most physically democratic sport. Just look at Jose Altuve. MVP and he is 5’6″. The Red Sox had a lineup this last season in which all but one player was under 6′. You can have someone lean and mean and someone who looks like that famous “tub of goo.”

      • Well, he certainly benefited from “white privilege”, so we have to thumb the scale in favor of Willie Mays somewhat.

        • No, you could have had the greatest black players alive competing against Ruth, and it would have made any difference to him at all. The lack of black players benefited the bottom of the scale, who wouldn’t have had jobs, not the top. This is the point Bill James made in an essay about why, unlike most pitchers, Roger Clemens was just as good in hitter friendly parks as he was in larger ones. “If you’re a high jumper and you clear the bar by six feet, raising it a couple of feet doesn’t matter.

          In 1920, Ruth hit 54 homers, nearly twice as many as he had hit (29) to break the record the previous season.It was more home runs than any other team in the American League hit during that season, nd only the Philadelphia Phillies (with 64) managed to beat Ruth in the National League. You seriously think adding the best black pitchers to Ruth’s adversaries would have made a dent in dominance like that?

          • There were dramatic changes in the way the ball was handled as defacing was now forbidden. A fresh ball was also added to the mix as the game ball no longer stayed in until it fell apart. Players and owners saw the impact of Ruth and home runs. In a few years, batters were slamming them all over the place. Ruth remained unchallenged until Jimmie Foxx showed up.

            A player born too early was Gavvy Cravath who led the NL in home runs in 1919 with 12 in about half a season. That was his sixth home run title and he did it against a sloppy ball and altered pitches. Of course, Gavvy was helped considerably by a ballpark in Philly that was friendly to right-handed hitters. But Gavvy was a dead-on pull hitter who may have loved Fenway.

            Now Ruth played a good portion of his career at parks (Polo Grounds/Yankee Stadium) that were made for lefty hitters. Ruth hit more on the road than at home. Mel Ott played his entire career at the Polo Ground and that clearly showed in his home run splits (323/188). Ruth’s 29 may have been as impressive as his 54, 59, 60. But, still, he was definitely helped with a 9/20 home/road split. Fenway in those days in RF was monstrous even for Ruth and later TSW and enter the building of the bullpens.

              • Ruth’s 1919 and the Carl Mays beaning changed the way the ball was handled. Goodbye to garbage balls. The ball was also physically changed and wound tighter with a new manufacturing process. Interesting pictures of the balls cut in half. Real before and after stuff.

                What to me is the big change is the milk of human kindness dispensed by pitchers. A brushback is no longer routine or even expected. I wonder has Willie ever had an at-bat against Drysdale where he was not on his ass at least once? Now batters look like knights with all their armor.

                • Maglie, Drysdale, Lonborg, Sudden Sam, Gibson especially…Pedro was the last true headhunter. The stupid tradition of hitting the player up after a home run, or the batter who hit one. Williams was mostly immune from being thrown at, first because he had the reputation of being able to hit the ball back at the pitcher if he chose, and second, because he was a better hitter when motivated, and tended to answer brushbacks with home runs.

                  Tony C’s horrible beaning also hastened the brushback’s decline.

                  Once pitchers didn’t bat in the AL, then the traditional restraint on beanballs was gone. Then batters started charging the mound. They had to crack down. I don’t miss it.

                  • Two items I see that also contributed were the rise of the union and free agency. To quote “How To Succeed” it became a “Brotherhood of Man” with the advent of a strong and united union. Tough to toss a ball at the head of a union brother.

                    With free agency, yesterday’s villain is today’s teammate. And with FA and arbitration, the last thing a player needs is a career derailed by an injury induced by a beanball and subsequent retaliation. Big money is on the line.

          • Not at all! I was sarcastically playing the role of a race-hustling SJW. I figured you knew Hell would freeze over before I seriously took that stance. 🙂

  5. Stephen Hawking “became the best argument yet against making euthanasia and assisted suicide societal norms.”
    But there are so many more people who become the best arguments FOR euthanasia and assisted suicide.

    So, there’s a “Blue Wave” on the horizon? Aren’t these the same people who assured us that Hillary Clinton couldn’t lose?

    • 1. More than half the population are walking, talking arguments for assisted suicide, you mean? Like Jimmy Kimmel, Mitch McConnel, and Maxine Waters?

      2. Yes, and for the same reasons: they think they can make it happen by creating a sense of inevitability.

  6. The media seemed to go largely quiet after the recent Texas primaries, which had been previously widely prophesied as going to herald the coming of the divine “blue wave”. Online debate on this did make me aware of a term I had not before encountered, but now predict will see more widespread use: “Wishcasting”.

  7. I have a photo on my office wall of Mays’ “The Catch” for many good reasons, the primary one is in addition to his superior baseball talents he gave it his all every day. My own quote is added to the poster I made of the old photo, “Even the greatest are greater with effort.”

    Love the Babe, but he could not do and likely would not do what Mays did with regularity. No WAR, OPS or other stats required for me on this one. Sorry, Jack.

  8. I won’t ever watch another Shonda Rhimes show, not because of this, but because of the ethical rot that is “Scandal.” Rhimes is celebrated as an explicitly feminist creator, yet that show glorifies abusive relationships without even ever realizing that’s what they are.

    • “I won’t ever watch another Shonda Rhimes show […] that show glorifies abusive relationships without even ever realizing that’s what they are.”

      Want to eliminate laughably hypocritical advocacy programming from your life?

      Allow me suggest an area FAR more…um…target rich.

      • Ah yes, I remember all those Hollywood hypocrites who glorify school shootings and present school shooters as admirable, sympathetic figures to emulate.*

        *Yes, Ryan Murphy exists—he’s another unethical producer whose work I avoid, save for American Crime Story, which he doesn’t have total control of.

        • Hollywood glorifies people using firearms to make their problems go away.

          Jerk wad punks who feel abused and ostracized by their classmates see the school population as their problem.

          Delineating a specific circumstance of gun violence as not being depicted gloriously in Hollywood and saying that Hollywood’s general glorification of gun violence is irrelevant to the specific is a logical fallacy.

          • The issue I brought up was Rhimes’ hypocrisy in glorifying abusive relationships while claiming to be a feminist creator, and even claiming the characters within those fictional abusive relationships are feminist. I think the hypocrisy there is clearer than what you and Paul are talking about–yes, Hollywood glorifies violence, but that’s because action is interesting.

            I do think Hollywood is hypocritical in other ways–even “progressive” shows often portray torture and police brutality in a positive light. Superhero shows–which I otherwise adore–are notorious at this.

  9. . . . the best argument yet against making euthanasia and assisted suicide societal norms. Ethically, I see a firm distinction between the two even though they may still be defined as synonymous or at different markers along a single spectrum. The former is involuntary (even if taken as the “assist” part of “assisted suicide”), has no limits as to suitability or consent, and is open to the argument of Rat. 29: The Altruistic Switcheroo: “It’s for his own good,” The latter, which may be more easily (and vociferously) objected to on moral grounds with its label of “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 12:31), and threat of “never forgiveness” (Mark 3:29), is voluntary. As much contention as there is to one’s “right to life,” there is no similar secondary (middle-woman?) consideration to an adult’s decision to activate his or her “right to death.”

    Case-by-case details, laws and persuasions notwithstanding, I find the interference of others in the obstruction of medically assisted suicide to be as unethical as any other obstruction to free will that is nobody else’s business however much they may believe or wish to believe that they do.

    • The main problem with assisted suicide lies in determining the role that clinical depression, which is usually a temporary state, even among the terminally-ill, is playing in a person’s wish to die. Of course, there are undoubtedly ways to ascertain this to an acceptable degree, but it does complicate the notion of freedom to choose the manner and timing of your death at all times.

      • I could have predicted your (or somone’s) reply, joed, couched as it was in words of such quiet reasonableness. After several decades in various professional capacities that required mental health expertise in nursing, teaching, counseling and crisis situations, I became accomplished in applying the same loose bandages — not to mention reality-altering drugs — to suffering people who were being refused the help they desired.

        Being no longer bound (mentally!) by the laws and “well-meant” often wrong-headed ethics of those professions — and I am well aware this is an antisocial, non-medical and easily considered totally unethical opinion — I am quickly crossing over to the side of the victim and becoming an advocate of personal rights (patients’ rights, if you will) particularly for those people who are diagnosed within the widest range of ICD–10 and DSM–IV definitions of what is popularly known as depression.

        Some people get on quite happily without ever being “happy.” Some people have a lower pain threshold than others (Pain Management is a disaster in this country; most medical personnel don’t even “believe” in it). Some people have spells of “black-dog” moods that disappear spontaneously (teenagers are the only champs at this). Some people hurt all the time, for no “good” reason, for weeks, months, years, like nobody’s business. And some — more every year as humans in “developed” countries with adequate health care live longer — just get bored with life, annoyed at having to get up every day no matter what promises the new dawn or new great-grandchild holds. Horrors! They must be sick, unhappy, need help; Quick! Go make the appointment with the counselor, go gather the distractions: toys, attention, activities, entertainment, and refills on their medications (but don’t leave too many in the bottle!). And some just want out. They are not interested in waiting to

        The truth is that the desires of these some (adding up to a lot of) people are instantly and totally submerged under the wants and needs of those around them, be they loving family or a public awaiting their next novel or scientific breakthrough or their attentive geriatrician determined to carry them as far past 100 as possible . . . or the laws that say they may not be let die. There’s always an excuse for telling them that in the end (or what they have decided, for whatever reasons, is the end), they have no rights whatsoever.

        There’s a wicked correlation here between the anti-abortionist (No, you may not die; you must be born no matter what) and the anti-assisted or plain, everyday suicide (No, you may not die: you must continue, like Hamlet, shuffling on this mortal coil until you fall off it). Oh, think of the children! And don’t forget Stephen Hawking!

        • Please correct:
          — add the word “not”
          (teenagers are not the only champs at this)
          — deleting the sentence fragment below
          They are not interested in waiting to

        • Everyone has the right to die. By their own hand.

          When you ask a society to condone and assist, you degrade the value of human life in that society. This is why we should not allow this to be the norm here.

          wicked correlation here between the anti-abortionist (No, you may not die; you must be born no matter what)

          This might be the most perverse thing I have ever read. As if a baby would CHOOSE abortion, against all natural drives, logic and reason.

          This is a very softly spoken, oh-so-reasonably presented insidious evil.

          Penn, think about what you are saying. Life is precious. Our society MUST believe so, or we fall to the depths of human depravity and despair.

          • You beat me to it. I was going to make the same distinction between suicide and “assisted” suicide. Why does something like that need the blessing of the State, and why would we even want it? As things stand, we don’t punish people who attempt, and fail, suicide. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is another can of worms, and one that is bound to be abused in truly horrific ways. Personally-speaking, I’ve been in states of physical and/or mental torment (including a state, imposed by others, that could only be described as torture in every sense of the word) that left me feeling that death would be a very welcome respite, so I truly don’t have a flippant attitude about it. We’re all heading towards an end that is often undignified and painful, and there’s a good chance that we’ll also be at least contemplating a quick and merciful end. Maybe it’s a blessing that we should end up feeling that way, rather than being broken-hearted about having to leave a life we’ve come to love. Can you imagine, though, being in a non-communicative state, still wanting to live, but being unable to convey this to someone who may be deciding, either out of genuine concern for our wishes, or not, that we’d be better off dead?
            I had the same thoughts about the abortion comment as well.

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