This day in ethics: in 1908: the FBI was founded as the the Office of the Chief Examiner, and re-named a year later. Few American institutions have as mixed an ethical legacy, and the cognitive dissonance continues. In 1984, one of the most evil men in U.S. history died, though his exploits have inspired as many works of fiction and entertainment as many a more virtuous figure. Ed Gein, the serial killer who was the inspiration for “Psycho,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and many others novels and films, and about half the episodes on the long-running CBS drama “Criminal Minds, finally went to his maker. The identity of this monster’s “maker” is a matter of debate.
1. Baseball ethics and a troubling societal blind spot. The American League Rangers finally demoted struggling outfielder Delino DeShields to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. The real question should be what too them so long. Despite playing solid defense in the outfield, DeShields, 25, has hit just .204 in 322 plate appearances this season with an On base+Slugging total of .570, which is, for you sad baseball unenlightened, objectively horrible. Any OPS under .700 is unacceptable in the major leagues.
Yet an unnamed Rangers player told reporters that such demotions don’t breed a winning culture and instead breed complacency. Funny, I always thought complacency was when an organization just accepted sub-par performance rather than moving to address it. Yes, even in baseball, the toxic idea that employees have a right to their jobs no matter how well or poorly they perform them is on the rise, and with it support for America’s socialists.
2. In short, yes. I have been asked if the antics of Jason Spencer, the Georgia Republican who resigned yesterday, thus setting a new and useful standard that any elected official who screams “Nigger!’ on command and strips to his briefs on a television show is obligated to find new employment, has any broader significance for our nation. Indeed it demonstrates vividly, not for the first time, the public elects a disturbing number of idiots and incompetents to make and execute our laws. Spencer is a flashy example, but examples reveal themselves every day in their word and deed. For example, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who is actually taken seriously by some as a potential 2020 Democratic candidate for the Presidency, said that those who do not oppose the Supreme Court nomination if Brett Kavannaugh for the Supreme Court are “complicit in evil.” This is worse than what Spencer did, which is self-destructive and unlikely to persuade other to adopt unethical views and attitudes.
3. The Rose Cavanaugh Episode. The latest viral progressive media star is 18-year-old Rose Cavanaugh, a sophomore at UC-Santa Barbara, whose exchange with GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner at a town hall meeting in Montgomery County this week, videoed and posted by an activist, was a social media sensation. Here is part of the transcript:
Cavanaugh: “You’ve said that climate change is a result of people’s body heat, and are refusing to take action on the issue. Does this have anything to do with the $200,000 that you have taken from the fossil fuel industry?”
Wagner: “Well, I appreciate you being here. You’re 18 years old. You know, you’re a little young and naive. But are we here to elect a governor or elect a scientist? Okay? I’m here to be the governor.”
- The comment by Wagner is rude, unfair, an ad hominem attack, and bigotry. There was nothing “naive” about her question. I sit naive to wonder if corporate contributions affect the positions of politicians? It is naive not to. Is it naive to believe in climate change? It depends: does an individual have real knowledge regrading the complex issue and some understanding of the science involved? Wagner doesn’t know whether his questioner does or not: he merely assumes that she is naive because she is young.
- Does Wagner really argue that climate change is caused by body heat? If so, he’s old and stupid. If not, why didn’t he correct his questioner?
In fact, the “take action” part of the question is arguably naive: what can one state do to stop climate change? Wagner, however, never gives the student the courtesy or respect of a serious answer.
- “Are we here to elect a governor or elect a scientist?” is about as dumb a retort as I’ve ever heard a candidate utter, anywhere, for any post.
Don’t vote for this guy.