Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/2/18: Stupid Legislature Tricks, NFL Values, And Google Is Now Evil, So Watch Out

Good Morning!

Haven’t featured the Battle Hymn of the Republic for a while: it was the musical climax of my Dad’s funeral service at Arlington National Cemetary. My many performer friends sure came through that day. “Wow,” the chaplain exclaimed when the rousing three choruses were finished.

1. On Wisconsin. After a party flip in state governments, the party on the way out will occasionally try to pass lame duck legislation to try to hamstring the new majority. I’m pretty Ethics Alarms has covered other examples of this in the past; if not, it’s because the stunt is usually grandstanding for the base, or mere politics Such laws often fail to  withstand judicial challenge. If a legislature can get away with it, then it’s in the ethics gray zone of politics.

On Monday, the GOP majority Wisconsin legislature will try to pass as much as it can of a huge bill with many dubious or controversial provisions, including some that would limit the new governor’s powers to control the state attorney general, and others that would constrict broad powers the same legislature gave to the defeated Republican governor, Scott Walker. As long as a legislature has power to act, one cannot logically criticize efforts to benefit that legislature’s majority party and its constituents until it has the power to do so no more. If the parties mutually agreed to informally ban such lame duck tricks, that would be wonderful.

As it would be if I could win an Olympic swimming medal.

Sources: Journal-Sentinel 1, 2, 3

2. How clever, and further vulgarizing public discourse, too! I have now heard two ad for Christmas products use the term “elfing,” as in “It’s elfing awesome!” ZOne was a TBS ad for the movie “Elf.”

Really? Obvious plays on the word fuck to promote Christmas and a children’s film?

3. Stay classy, NFL! NFL TV ratings are up this year, which just goes to show how little American care about ethics. The NFL is managed by brutal, cynical, greedy executives, and played by athletes who are too often criminals and thus even before the NFL gets them brain-damaged. The latest from “America’s Sport”:

Running back Kareem Hunt was released by the Chiefs hours after video footage published Friday showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a hallway.

“Earlier this year, we were made aware of an incident involving running back Kareem Hunt,” read a statement issued by the Chiefs on Friday night. “At that time, the National Football League and law enforcement initiated investigations into the issue. As part of our internal discussions with Kareem, several members of our management team spoke directly to him. Kareem was not truthful in those discussions. The video released today confirms that fact. We are releasing Kareem immediately.”

The video of Hunt, obtained and published by TMZ Sports, is related to a February 2018 altercation on an early Saturday morning at The Metropolitan at the 9, Hunt’s hotel apartment in downtown Cleveland. Police were called and a written report was previously made, but video footage was not available until it was published by TMZ.

…In the video, Hunt is seen coming out of a room and talking to a woman off camera. When she approached Hunt, he shoved her, and she hit him in the face. When another man came out of the hotel room and tried to intervene, Hunt continued to lunge toward the woman. As more people came into the hallway, Hunt had to be restrained several times as he made advances toward the woman and other people. At one point, Hunt appeared to knock two people over with a shove, including the woman he initially shoved. At the end of the video, Hunt kicked the woman as she was crouched on the ground.

The Chiefs and NFL did not take any action against Hunt after the altercation was reported to police in February.

The police didn’t arrest Hunt either. He is a major star, and this would be, in baseball, the equivalent of Aaron Judge being caught beating up a woman in a hotel. Of course, Aaron Judge wouldn’t do that. No baseball player has. It’s not a sport that celebrates or tolerates violence, and very few violent individuals play it. In contrast, the NFL routinely drafts college players with shadows of domestic abuse on their records.

Then there is this, from my neck of the NFL jungle: The Washington Redskins claimed  linebacker Reuben Foster on waivers  hours after his latest arrest on domestic violence charges.  Yes, there have been others. On January 13, 2018, Foster was arrested in Alabama  for possession of marijuana. On February 11, 2018, Foster was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, threats, and assault weapon possession charges. On April 12, he was charged with felony counts of multiple domestic violence, possession of a weapon, and infliction of bodily harm.  On November 24, 2018, Foster was arrested again on probable cause misdemeanor domestic violence charges, and was released by the 49ers the following day, because four strikes and you’re out. Well, they are a football team, they don’t understand baseball.

Clarence Darrow would claim that Foster never had a chance. His unmarried parents, Inita Berry Paige and Danny Foster, were estranged when Foster shot Paige in the back. She was holding 18-month-old Reuben at the time. Dad was indicted by a grand jury in 1996, fled the state before being arrested, escaped from jail  and took on a new identity. He was arrested recently after spending 16 years on the run.

4. Be Afraid. Be very afraid. Google employees openly debated whether the search engine should bury conservative media outlets in the company’s search function in response to President Donald Trump’s election. according to internal Google communications. The Daily Caller and Breitbart were specifically singled out as outlets that Google should handicap. Internal Google discussions considered ways Google could prevent Trump from winning again.

Forget about Trump. The fact that these high-tech companies know they have the power to tilt the democratic process and increasingly think it is ethically justifiable to do so means that regulation as a public utility is urgent and mandatory.

In case you were taking solace in Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto, they ditched it this year.

5. I guess they just have to be “High School 1, High School 2..etc.” …unless numbers start offending people. You never know. Naming any public place after a living person is a risk; I wouldn’t do it. If one is going to do it, however, there has to be some integrity and commitment involved.

The Detroit Board of Education recently voted 6-1  to seek a new name for the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine. Guess why. Come on, guess. Yup, Carson is no longer worthy of honor because he works for the President of the United States. According to a policy approved earlier this year, the board is permitted to change existing school names to reflect “individuals who have made a significant contribution to the enhancement of education.” Carson’s contributions to medicine were significant enough to make him a suitable honoree for naming a school—he was the first to perform an in utero procedure on a fetus and lead a team of surgeons in separating conjoined twins—though he exposed himself a an idiot-savant during his run for the 2016 Presidential nomination. Politics shouldn’t matter when an honor is based on a narrow and specific achievement in a given field.  Ah, but as Lamar Lemmons, a Detroit school board member  told The Washington Post , Carson’s name is comparable to “having Trump’s name on our school in blackface.”

How does a name appear in blackface? I wonder where Lemmons went to school?

Honors based on real accomplishments should not be airbrushed away because of later controversial words and actions, unless they objectively amount to such a legitimate source of embarrassment to the community or institution that the elimination of the name is basic common sense.

Working for and supporting the elected President of the United states does not and cannot meet that standard.

It depresses me that this statement even has to be made.


38 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/2/18: Stupid Legislature Tricks, NFL Values, And Google Is Now Evil, So Watch Out

  1. Regarding #1:

    You forgot the semicolon between “I’m pretty” and “Ethics Alarms.”

    Or was that message intended to be subliminal?


  2. Ben Carson’s an Uncle Tom. He’s not a Democrat. He’s strayed off the reservation. He’s not keepin’ it real. He should be keepin’ it real stupid. Clearly, he’s a house you-now-what. They should start going back to “P.S. [insert number].”

  3. 3. Football is a vicious, nasty game best played by vicious, nasty people. Just one of the many reasons I refuse to watch it any more. For me, the football party’s over. Turn out the lights.

  4. “After a party flip in state governments, the party on the way out”

    For better or for worse, EA has seen a quantifiable uptick regarding the Dairy State in recent history; none of which might be construed as flattering.

    That said, I’m not so sure Righty should be viewed as the party on the way out.

    While WESconsin (H/T Other Bill) will seat a Lefty Governor, Righty held a majority in the State Assembly and picked up a seat in the State Senate.

    The…um…results of Governor-elect Tony Evers’ Department of Public Instruction career has been, shall we say, mixed.

    IMHO, our thrice-elected/out-going Governor Walker both took a flyer AND mailed it in.

    A lackluster campaign his heart wasn’t in. Who knows, maybe he has a FoxNews gig in the wings.

    Heck, that’s gotta be better than being booed at ​Special Olympics Awards Ceremonies, am I right?

    While I’m not his biggest fan, it should be noted that he was at the helm as America’s Dairyland dug itself out of the pretty freakin’ deep fiscal hole excavated by former Governor “Diamond” Jim Doyle.

    • I had never seen Walker in action before the GOP debates. Star power and charisma is a specialty of mine, and I was shocked at how bland and energyless Walker came off. He was a dead candidate, and obviously an acquired local taste.

      • ”Star power and charisma is a specialty of mine”

        Wish I could say the same…

        “I was shocked at how bland and energyless Walker came off.”

        I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: “Not ready for PrimeTime.”

        ‘Nuf said!

        • Atta boy, Paul. “PM Wesconsin…”

          I’m serious. The midwest is where the rubber meats the road in the U.S. of A. Keep building those cranes and fire trucks and making all that cheese and butter and beer and brats. Praise Allah. Even if the breweries have been sold off to South Africa.(What a world.)

          • “What a ​world.”

            You got THAT right!

            FTR, the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality have no problem whatsoever with either the decades-on-end one-party rule of Madison’s CommonSenseLess Council or the Dane County Board.

            You’ll never guess why not…

            • Ooops, That should have been “On Wesconsin,” not “PM Wesconsin.” And “meet” not “meat.” Although I kind of like “where the rubber meats the road.” Makes no sense whatsoever but it has an appealing, vaguely non-vegetarian ring to it.

      • Jack Marshall wrote, “I had never seen Walker in action before the GOP debates”, “I was shocked at how bland and energyless Walker came off. He was a dead candidate, and obviously an acquired local taste.”

        Walker is not an charismatic or energetic candidate; what he is, is a politician that is listens to people talking to him, he’s straight with people, he’s honest, he’s reasonably kind with those around him, he is respectful of those around him even the partisan hacks that attack him at ever turn, he blows off the partisan attacks and moves on, he’s far less focused on being partisan and focused on getting the job done, he’s tried his best to do exactly what he said he would do. My personal opinion is that Walker is one of the rarest breeds of modern day politicians, one that is a positive force on those around him, one that has a positive character, and one with positive motivation, but he is not one that will allow his goals to strip him of his personal integrity; I’m guessing that there are some lefties that will disagree with me.

        Now that Walker is done being Governor of Wisconsin, I suspect that he’ll be available to obtain a place in Trump’s cabinet where his administrative abilities can really shine.

        I like Walker both personally and I like most of his political views and I would have voted for him for President had he gotten the nomination.

  5. “As long as a legislature has power to act, one cannot logically criticize efforts to benefit that legislature’s majority party and its constituents until it has the power to do so no more.”

    I can.

    If we are truly seeking a more perfect union, then policy, regardless of who voted you into office, should seek that end alone. That means doing what is good for the vision of the nation established in the founding documents. Which means the whole republic are the constituents of the majority party in competition of whose plan most fits the goal of achieving a more perfect union.

    Fighting over scraps of who gets the proceeds of heisted resources is grossly anti-republican and should never be endorsed as appropriate purpose of politics.

    “…to benefit that legislature’s majority party and its constituents…”
    makes the legislative squabbling sound like an intentionally zero sum game.

    • Well, to some extent that’s exactly what it is. I don’t see the alternative. If one party believes that the other party’s policies are wrong and bad for the public interest, how can one party with the power not act consistently with that belief as long as the system gives them the power to do so?

      Doesn’t your argument slide into the “Bush should govern like a Democrat because he lost the popular vote” claim in 2000? And “Trump has no mandate”?

      • I’ll have a response to this eventually, but in short, your original language lent itself to an argument over redistributing public largesse to those who voted for you. That’s different than an argument over values.

    • But what if both sides are so convinced that the other is determined to overthrow the “more perfect union” you describe, how can they do anything else except try to limit the opposition’s impact when they have the chance?

      I get your argument, but it isn’t the world we live in. Politics has become completely adversarial. There is so little middle ground, and politics is played at such a “zero sum” level these days, that your alternative of promoting the public good is less important than preventing it’s perceived destruction.

      • My beef is with the language hinting at politics being a big resource grab to aggrandize the people who voted FOR you at the cost of the people who voted AGAINST you.

        Your commentary is generally acceptable to me in terms of politics, if both sides are fighting for perceived *values*. But, your characterization isn’t accurate either, while there is a fight over values, one side, since the great depression, and the other side to a lesser degree very recently have been fighting for various forms of redistribution of other people’s property.

        That’s my beef.

        • Yeah, I get that, but it seems to me that redistribution and opposing it are indistinguishable from the values that drive the policies. For example, why does one side want to redistribute the wealth, and the other oppose it? It’s not purely politics, although that’s a big component of it.

          In the larger context, I don’t think the instant case does near as much to aggrandize their proponents as to reduce the power of their incoming opponents to do what they perceive as harm. In this case, its more of a reaction than anything else. Presumably, the other side would do the same if the situation were reversed.

          Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like these kinds of games. The harm our polity and make compromise almost impossible. It also smacks of pure political gamesmanship, even if a case can be made that it’s directly related to preserving values. Finally, it has a really bad look, and can damage the future prospects of the party engaging in these games.

  6. Forget about Trump. The fact that these high-tech companies know they have the power to tilt the democratic process and increasingly think it is ethically justifiable to do so means that regulation as a public utility is urgent and mandatory.

    As a long-time proponent of an open and largely unregulated Internet, I am saddened to have to agree.

    We cannot allow private companies to control of public discourse, and make judgments about what constitutes the public good in a way that inhibits free speech by controlling what gets seen by the public and what does not. If their platform becomes powerful enough, it must be regulated as a public utility, and this example is why.

    • “We cannot allow private companies to control of public discourse, and make judgments about what constitutes the public good in a way that inhibits free speech by controlling what gets seen by the public and what does not. ”

      Glenn, you realize you’re describing the news media, here, right?

      • Not quite. We have seen that no one media company can dominate them all, but that’s not true of Google, Twitter, and Facebook just to mention a few online companies. There is no effective competition there, and there is effective competition in the media. It may not be as pervasive and effective as some of us may like, but it is most definitely there.

        If Google suppresses searches, the vast majority of Internet searchers will not see conservative views. You can’t really do that in the media, as dominant as the left is.

        • They do try, however. Fox is the only competitor with an opposing view. When I need to search, I generally use bing (no better than Google) or Norton Safe-Search. Xcite is probably OK as well.

          • Well, broadcast perhaps. But the papers, for example, have many conservative counterparts.

            I use DuckDuckGo, myself. But Google is necessary to me also sometimes because it is far more comprehensive, and that’s the reason it’s overwhelmingly used by such a large majority.

    • Beating up women in hotels? That was the statement. I am well aware of various MLB domestic violence episodes, goung bacl to Wil Codero, and more lately Addison Russell, and Houston reliever Roberto Osuna. And I didn’t read your links/

      MLB does not draft players with previous battery incidents, the episodes have been neither as frequent or as blatant, and MLB is far more vigilent in policing the issue.

      It’s easy to criticize when one intentionally misconstrues what was written.

  7. Re #3,

    Jack, you state “and this would be, in baseball, the equivalent of Aaron Judge being caught beating up a woman in a hotel. Of course, Aaron Judge wouldn’t do that. No baseball player has.”

    Just looking for a little clarity here. No player has been caught beating up a woman or they have not been caught beating up a woman in a hotel? Or by caught do you mean on video?

    I think MLB and NFL are worlds apart and I only watch one for the past few years. But to think all MLB players are perfect citizens seems more than optimistic.

    Even this blog has discussed domestic violence issues this year re: BlueJays/Astros and Roberto Osuna:

    Osuna was accused of assaulting his domestic partner at a condo apartment that I believe is quite similar to the NFL player’s hotel apartment living quarters.

    But the number of incidents re: MLB is very disproportionate.

    • “and this would be, in baseball, the equivalent of Aaron Judge being caught beating up a woman in a hotel. Of course, Aaron Judge wouldn’t do that. No baseball player has.”

      The only domestic abuse cases involving MLB players have been in domestic settings. “beating up a woman in a hotel” was specific for a reason: we know of not just one but TWO NFL stars who were caught on video beating up a woman in a hotel.

  8. #4 Jack wrote, “The fact that these high-tech companies know they have the power to tilt the democratic process and increasingly think it is ethically justifiable to do so…”

    How do we know that they haven’t already coded programming within their active internet applications that’s specifically designed to tilt the democratic process towards the far left in more subtle ways and track those that they ideologically oppose? They already know who is clicking on what links within their applications and they already track that usage and share that information in ways that I suspect is not necessarily ethical but of course it’s perfectly acceptable within an ideological mind that thinks that the ends justifies the means. Let’s be honest, why wouldn’t these ideologically obsessed individuals be doing this right now, what’s stopping them, who would know?

    Anyone remember Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto about the ills of technology?

  9. Jack,

    I’m a little late on the uptake, but…

    …because four strikes and you’re out. Well, they are a football team, they don’t understand baseball.

    You may only have three strikes in baseball, but you have four downs in football, so it make perfect sense! (I have to credit a friend for pointing out that bit of morbid humor!)

  10. Despite my extreme distaste for the effects of regulation and the ‘public utility’ designation (never has a company NOT made much more money after regulation) I do not see a way around this for the tech giants.

    Maybe an enforced break up (ala’ Ma Bell in the 1980s) is the answer, but not along geographical lines?

    There is no GOOD answer here.

  11. Interesting perspective on #1…

    Speaker Robin Vos: Sensationalized rhetoric serves no one

    The hyperbole has been excessive during the last week.

    The extraordinary session of the state Legislature was not a “coup” or a “power grab.” It wasn’t even a so-called lame-duck session because voters re-elected strong Republican majorities in both chambers for next session. The extraordinary session was merely an effort to ensure that in divided government, every branch of government has an equal seat at the table.

    On Jan. 7, Tony Evers will become governor with the same constitutional powers as his predecessors. He will run every state agency, appoint hundreds of people to high-powered positions, implement laws and propose a state budget. His veto pen is still the strongest in the country.

    So, when the media and the far left release radical rhetoric, it’s time to separate fact from exaggerated fiction.

    Robin Vos
    First, this extraordinary session was hardly unprecedented, as my Assembly Democratic colleagues suggest. Nine current representatives somehow have forgotten they held a real lame-duck session in 2010, when they passed massive union contracts that were 1,900 pages long and contained millions of dollars in union concessions. Democrats even got a representative out of jail to cast the deciding vote. Their plans exceed anything taken up this week: Democrats wanted to gerrymander the district maps in their favor, remove the governor’s authority to appoint cabinet secretaries and restrict the governor’s veto authority.

    Many bills in last week’s extraordinary session should not come as a surprise. Assembly Republicans have been working on administrative rule reform since 2013. We passed Voter ID in 2011, and the scheduled income tax cut has been in statutes for five years. In addition, many of the provisions were previously bills or administrative rules. Others are updates to state law to reflect court decisions and federal law. Democrats have even supported several of the ideas in the past.

    Here are the facts on the major items in the bills:

    Work requirements for BadgerCare
    The bill codifies the work requirement for BadgerCare that the federal government recently approved and is currently being implemented. National polls show nearly two-thirds of Americans support work requirements for welfare recipients.

    Health waiver oversight
    The legislation allows lawmakers to have a voice in the health waiver application process. This move ensures that unelected bureaucrats can’t alter or create health policy and programs without input from legislators. Wisconsin will join at least 13 states with similar oversight.

    U.S. Bank
    Sponsored By U.S. Bank
    Value Vs. Desire
    Major purchases aren’t always extravagances — there may be opportunities in buying cars, art, homes

    See More
    Income tax cut
    Because the federal government is now allowing the collection of sales and use taxes from out-of-state internet retailers, the bill ensures these dollars will be used to reduce income tax rates.

    Voter ID
    The legislation codifies the administrative rule changes that ensure proper implementation. This change means that individuals can continue to get a free ID and use their technical college ID for identification at the polls.

    Standard early voting hours
    On Election Day, every polling place in Wisconsin has the same voting hours. The legislation establishes that same consistency for early voting, which can take place at multiple locations at any hour of the day for two weeks before the election.

    Whether you agree with it or not, Foxconn is going to have a massive economic impact statewide. Gov.-elect Evers was critical of it but turning them away would devastate our economy. Changes to the composition of the board will ensure a smoother transition and make sure the Legislature maintains a say in our economic success.

    Legal reforms
    The bill gives the Legislature the ability to defend duly enacted laws as well as to represent itself and its employees. The legislation also puts lawsuit settlement funds, which are taxpayer dollars, into the general fund to ensure they’re not used as a slush fund by the Department of Justice.

    The package of bills is a continuation of the work we have done over the last eight years that has made Wisconsin the gem of the Midwest. Our unemployment rate is at historically low levels, family incomes are up and poverty levels are down. The state economy has never looked better.

    The people who elected strong majorities in the Legislature want us to continue our work and to work together. This session, more than 90 percent of new laws received bipartisan votes. I’m confident we can find common ground with the new governor to help move Wisconsin forward this next session.

    My office door will be open to Gov.-elect Evers for him to propose any bipartisan idea where we can work together. I’m optimistic he will take up our offer. Let’s hope he does.

    • Certainly some rationalizing going on in that piece but it’s nice to actually have some of the facts presented instead of the only thing that Wisconsin’s own left leaning smear fest has been presenting.

    • More information on #1…

      A Message from Governor Walker

      “…There’s a great deal of misinformation being put out on these bills.

      Let’s set the record straight – the new governor will still have some of the strongest powers of any governor in the nation if these bills become law. He will have the power to veto legislation and he will have some of the broadest line-item veto authority of any governor in the nation.

      The new governor will be able to appoint the members of his cabinet and of various other state government posts – as well as judges, district attorneys, sheriffs and other officials.

      The new governor will be able to sign off on administrative rules. He will be able to present a biennial state budget. He will be able to pardon convicted felons.

      None of these things will change regardless of what I do with the bills passed in the state Legislature last week.


      The media in Wisconsin and across the nation have been hyping up twisted versions of what the bills are, again. Who knew the media would do something like that.

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