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



Filed under Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Race, Rights, Science & Technology, Sports, Workplace

48 responses to “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. Joe Fowler

    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.

    • This is my assumption as well.

      • 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…

        • Good point, Michael. And Warren isn’t even relying on genealogical research, just “family stories”, which are notoriously unreliable. My wife’s family had a story of an “Indian princess” (why were they always “princesses”?) on her mother’s side. Genealogy is one of her hobbies, and she had found no evidence to support the tale. When we recently did DNA tests, there was nothing there but northern European. So much for those stories.

    • 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.”

  5. joed68

    Yeah, but didn’t Babe Ruth own slaves?

    • No, but I’ve read interesting arguments that Babe was, in fact, black. He was certainly a mutant.

      • joed68

        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.

            • Of course, those scuffed balls, emory balls, and the spitball cut the other way. Babe had to deal with them…Willie didn’t, except now and then.

              • 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.

          • joed68

            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. 🙂

  6. joed68

    Elizabeth Warren: “My Mother and Daddy….”

  7. joed68

    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.

  8. 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”.

  9. adimagejim

    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.

  10. Chris

    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.

    • Paul W. Schlecht

      “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.

      • Chris

        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.

          • Chris

            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.

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