Monthly Archives: October 2018

Unfinished World Series Ethics Business

Today the victorious Boston Red Sox took their now traditional duck boat parade through Boston and down the Charles River, so even for the Sox, the 2018 season is officially done.  My job isn’t however, because there were two striking examples of moral luck and consequentialism during the World Series, and apparently I was the only one who noticed.

I. The “Bad News Bears” moment.

When Red Sox Game 4 starter Eduardo Rodriguez surrendered what seemed at the time to be a decisive three-run homer to Yasiel Puig, putting the Sox behind in the 6th inning 4-0, he angrily hurled his glove to the mound. Commentators joked about how he resembled the Bad New Bears’ combative, potty-mouthed shortstop Tanner in the Little League classic, but other than the ribbing, nobody criticized “E-Rod.” Indeed, his manager, Alex Cora, exonerated him for the home run, saying that he, the manager, screwed up by letting his tiring pitcher face the dangerous Puig.

Yet earlier this season, Boston reliever Carson Smith, regarded as an important member of the Red Sox relief squad, threw his glove in the dugout after giving up a home run, and partially dislocated his shoulder. He was lost for the season, and both team officials and Boston sportswriters blamed Smith for his injury. He injured himself you see. It was stupid and selfish, and showed him to be unprofessional and untrustworthy. Many thought Smith should be fined, or even released. Yet it was a completely freak injury. It wasn’t as if Smith had punched a wall or a water cooler. Baseball players throw their gloves all the time, and I’ve never seen it injure anyone. So why was Carson Smith treated as a pariah for throwing his glove, but Eddie Rodriguez doing the same thing shrugged off? The only reason is that Smith’s angry gesture happened to injure him , which nobody, including Smith, could have predicted. In fact, Rodriquez was more, much more, irresponsible than Smith, because he knew throwing a glove could cause an injury. He knew, because it happened to Smith. Continue reading

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Halloween Ethics Warm-Up, 2018: Problematical Communications Edition

Boo!

1. How can CNN, or anybody, continue to justify employing Don Lemon as a “journalist”?

He defaults to emotion regularly. He is incapable of objectivity. His partisan and ideological bias is palpable. ( He gets drunk on the air every New Years…) And he says idiotic things like this. Good for Scalise, the perfect individual to flag Lemon’s incompetence. His Twitter followers have also noted many other cases of Democrats “killing people.” Or is Lemon and CNN going to stand on the fact that nobody was killed by the Bernie Sanders-supporting sniper who seriously wounded Scalise? I wouldn’t be surprised.

2. Stop making me defend Hillary Clinton! During an interview with Recode executive editor Kara Swisher (full disclosure: I had some unpleasant experiences dealing with Swisher in her Washington Post days, and wouldn’t trust her to walk my dog around the block.)  in New York City over the weekend. Swisher asked Clinton a question regarding a quip that was previously made by Holder, but mistakenly attributed it to Senator Spartacus, Cory Booker. “What do you think of Corey Booker … what do you think about him saying ‘Kick them in the shins,’ essentially?” “Well, that was Eric Holder,” Clinton said. “Yeah, I know they all look alike.” “No, they don’t,” Swisher responded.

Now Clinton is being called “insensitive” by her party’s political correctness posse. It was a joke, and also a rebuke of Swisher. The former was absolutely fine (and funny); the latter was a mean-spirited “gotcha!” suggesting unfairly that Swisher thinks of all blacks as fungible, a bigoted attitude, when she just made a mistake. (I get Cory Booker confused with Kirk Douglas sometimes.) Then Swisher turned the finger-pointing back on Hillary, implying that Clinton meant her remark literally rather than sarcastically. Continue reading

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Jake Tapper, Julia Ioffe And The Anatomy Of An Ethics Train Wreck

I can’t even keep track of the subordinate ethics train wrecks and sub-train wrecks emanating from the Biggest Ethics Train Wreck of  Them All, the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, wherein the furious defeated Democratic Party/progressive/NeverTrump/news media collective set out to undermine the new Presidency, and to overthrow the Presidency if possible. This forms the backdrop, wrote Liz Shield yesterday, for

“every aspect of public discourse on Trump and Trump-related matters..the news on the Pittsburgh synagogue slaughter falls into this category and the strongest narrative on the tragedy is that Trump inspired this/is responsible because he hates Jews/is antisemitic/didn’t condemn the white supremacists or whatever flimsy excuses the resistance needs to blame Trump. In reality, Trump is probably the most pro-Israel president the U.S. has ever had…Those of us who are not in the #resistance are getting lectured on toning down our rhetoric from left-wing hysterics shouting all kinds of slanderous and intemperate accusations…So I am supposed to believe that calling Trump supporters Nazis, white supremacists, sexists, and homophobes is just the right thing to do but Trump’s rhetoric is pouring gasoline on a burning fire of crazy activists? Or perhaps violence in the name of the leftist agenda is just fine? I think that’s it.”

I agree. That’s it indeed. The same is obviously true of the level of rhetoric. Violent, hateful, extreme rhetoric has been coming from the anti-Trump news media for two years, and there are a lot more of them than there are of him, which is one. It takes an immense amount of journalism gall and the assumption of public  gullibility for the news media to argue that the President has created a culture of hate. Says Fox’s Lone Conservative Comic Greg Guttfield, “You want hate? You spend two years calling a guy Hitler, a racist, a traitor, and insane — then you blame him for violence cuz of nicknames?”

No previous President has been attacked using such extreme rhetoric or would have, and no President who was would have survived it without defending himself while calling his critics what they were.

[ A brief digression on “enemy of the people.” President Trump once again described the news media as the enemies of the people. I have, reluctantly, concluded that the label is accurate and justified, and that the President is right in affixing it. This has horrified many here. I agree that calling a crucial democratic institution a public enemy is extreme and dangerous. However,

…More dangerous to a democracy still is a crucial democratic institution perverting its professional and institutional obligations and using its public trust to attack and undermine the democracy it exists to serve;

…That is what the mainstream news media has chosen to do, rejecting objectivity and independence for a hard partisan alliance, depriving the public of a fair and truthful account of events and developing issues;

… The absence of a trustworthy and functioning journalistic establishment will, in the long run and if uncorrected, render our democracy dysfunctional and inoperable, to the detriment of the American public and the world.

…Therefore this deliberate, reckless course threatens the people, and since there is no unbiased Fifth Estate to warn them, it falls to the only remaining democratic institution with the ability to do so to assume the task, the Presidency.

….”Enemy of the people” is a shocking and damning accusation, and its full power is essential if journalists are to realize that they are on a destructive oath.]

This adversary position does place any ethical journalist left standing in peril of perishing in the crossfire, and being run down by the various careering trains despite his or her best efforts. On CNN’s “The Lead With Jake Tapper”this week,  GQ magazine correspondent Julia Ioffe was joined by David Urban, Symone Sanders (who is a documented idiot and bigot) and Mona Charen on a panel to discuss the effects of combative rhetoric, primarily the President’s. CNN’s Don Lemon’s statement that “The president of the United States is racist,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough assertion that “Even Albert Einstein may have ended up in a Nazi concentration camp with Donald Trump’s viewpoint on immigration,” and MSNBC’s Donnie Deutsch’s smear that “If you vote for Trump, then you the voter, you – not Donald Trump – are standing at the border like Nazis going ‘you here, you here!,” among others, were not discussed. Ioff, best known perhaps for being fired from Politico for suggesting that the President was having an incestuous relationship was his daughter (or in her words, was “fucking” Ivana), decided to compare the President of the United States to ISIS.
Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/18: Scary Ethics Stories!

Good Morning!

(And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brilliant, talented, always challenging, Trump-hating lawyer little sister, Edith Sophia Marshall!)

1 Quiz results: about 90% of responders found the drag Python sketch about a ladies club re-enactment of Pearl Harbor funny. Whew. As for the one voter who said that it was unfunny because it made light of human tragedy and violence, I’m glad you never attended any of the stage comedies I directed.

2. Ending birthright citizenship for illegal immigrant offspring? President Trump told Axios in an interview that he was preparing to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants here illegally. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t…You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

I have found no authorities who agree with Trump’s lawyers, if indeed they are telling him that. If they are, I don’t blame him for listening to them: if there was ever a President who was legally clueless, it’s this one. Some conservatives are livid about the suggestion (obviously all illegal  immigration-boosting liberals are as well), noting that this proposal is exactly as unconstitutional as Obama’s immigration-related EOs. I tend to agree with them. Ethically, the birthright rule is an incentive to break the law and anachronistic, since it originated when there were no legal restrictions on immigration nor reasons to have any. if the question gets to the Supreme Court, however, it will pose an integrity test for the conservative justices. Their philosophy is that you can’t just re-write or ignore the Constitution when it gets in the way of desirable policy, and this is a perfect example.

It is also very possible—likely?— that the President was using this trial balloon to energize the anti-illegal immigration base as the “caravan” continued its march. Continue reading

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Cultural Ethics Check: Considering “The Re-Enactment Of The Battle Of Pearl Harbor”

Is this still funny?

 

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Is There A Rational, Ethical Basis For Giving Illegal Aliens The Right To Vote For Anything?

This isn’t a quiz, because I can’t imagine an answer other than, “Of course not.” And yet…

San Francisco has registered 49 undocumented migrants to vote in school board elections. However, a more pressing controversy may be the amount of money spent on the effort. San Francisco expended $310,000 to register just 49 people in the city. That translates to $6,326 a vote, which is also incomprehensible to me. Why would tax-paying citizens, even those as addled as so many who live in the City by the Bay, tolerate this?

The school board tactic is, of course, an obvious “camel’s nose in the tent” method—also known as the slippery slope— of  gradually getting illegal aliens the right to vote. Women’s suffrage efforts a century ago proceeded the same way, with states allowing women to vote and run as candidates in school board elections. Following the leads of Michigan and Minnesota  in 1885 and New York in 1880, Washington state enacted the School Suffrage Act into law in 1890 allowing women to vote for school boards. But women were citizens, in the nation legally, and these measures were necessary to right a cultural, societal, legal and historical wrong. There is no parallel valid argument that it is wrong to deny non-citizens who entered or stay in this country illegally the same privileges the women’s suffrage movement sought—or if there is, I lack the imagination to conceive of it.

____________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

 

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/29/2018: Codes, Cars, Carter And The Caravan

Boy, this really IS a good morning!

(The warm-up may rely a bit more on links and quotes than usual…as Bob Cratchit tells Scrooge, “I was making rather merry yesterday.”)

1. Breaking News: Jimmy Carter is right! Former President Jimmy Carter, now 94, has injected himself into the Georgia governor’s race by asking Republican candidate Brian Kemp to resign as secretary of state. Carter’s argument is that there is an appearance of impropriety in his being officially responsible for an election in which he is a candidate, and that his resignation is essential  to preserve public confidence in the outcome of Kemp’s race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Carter’s made the request in an Oct. 22 letter .

“One of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be a nonbiased supervision of the electoral process,” Carter wrote, explaining that stepping aside “would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.”

When he’s right, he’s right. Kemp should resign, and his lamer than lame rationalization for not doing so, that it isn’t really he who supervises the election but his staff, would be sufficient reason not to vote for him in the gubernatorial election.

2. Ethics Dunce: Red Sox owner John Henry. You would think the progressive owner of the Boston Globe could restrain himself from blatant virtue-signaling while his team was celebrating its historic season and World Series victory, but no. Henry saluted his team for being “diverse” in his post-game remarks. Nobody sane cares how diverse, whatever that means (Where were the women, John? Where were the Asians? The differently-abled? Muslims? LGBT representatives?), a pro sports team is as long as it wins, and if it doesn’t win, its check-offs on an EEOC form won’t make it any better or its losing more palatable. The 2018 Red Sox were assembled according to the skills and talents of its personnel, with race and ethnicity a non-factor. What mattered is that the team’s manager (he’s Puerto Rican, and I don’t care) proved himself a natural leader who created a selfless, courageous, professional culture on his team, none of whom mentioned race, religion or creed all season, and properly so.

The compulsion to spurt progressive cant at every opportunity is pathological. Continue reading

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