Good morning, good morning!
Well, my Christmas tree is drying out, and its demise is near. Every January since I was a small child the slow acceptance that soon this bright, sparkling symbol of innocence, love, family optimism and joy will be gone has been painful, and you know, in this respect, I haven’t changed a bit. There’s no reason, of course, why we can’t have the spirit of Christmas all year long—heck, Scrooge pulled it off—but somehow the loss of the Christmas tree reminds me that everyone will be back to their same petty, nasty, selfish ways, if they aren’t already. Even me.
1. The New York Mets don’t get ethics, but we knew that. The Mets’ new manager is Carlos Beltran, fingered in the MLB report on the Houston Astros cheating scandal as one of the ringleaders of the scheme that already has cost that teams manager and general manager their jobs. Alex Cora, who shared prominence in the report with Beltran, also was fired from his job as manager of the Red Sox. Beltran escaped snactions from MLB because he was a player at the time, and the baseball management decided, for many reasons, that it could not punish the players. But now not just a player, but according to the investigation the player at the center of the cheating scandal is a manager. Isn’t the next step an obvious one? A major league team can’t have as its field leader a player who was recently identified as a key participant in a cheating scandal in which ever other management figure was fired, can it? How hard is this? To make matters worse, Beltran had recently lied in interviews with sportswriters about his knowledge of the Astros scheme. Yet so far, the Mets haven’t taken any action at all.
Beltran will be fired before the season begins, but the longer it takes for the Mets to figure out why, the more clearly the organization’s ethics rot will come into focus.
UPDATE: Beltran was sacked by the Mets this afternoon. (Thanks to Arthur in Maine for the news.) See? What did I tell you?
2. And speaking of baseball ethics rot, New York Times sports columnist Michael Powell proved his nicely. He mocks the current baseball cheating scandal thusly:
An Astros hitter can line a hit and motor into second base. From that perch he can stare at the opposing catcher and set to stealing pitching signs. Then he can break dance or do jumping jacks or anything else he can contrive to let the batter know the identity of the next pitch. That is baseball legal, and worth a giggle.
By contrast, a team apparatchik can sit in an airless office and stare at the television screen and decipher those same pitching signs. He can relay his findings to the bench, where players proceed with yips and howls and thumping of garbage cans to communicate to their batter that a fastball is a-coming. That is baseball illegal, and a high crime.
That’s correct. And anyone who thinks there is anything difficult about determining why the former is permitted and the latter isn’t is an ethics dunce extraordinaire. The players, on the field, by their own skills and talents, play the game, which includes noticing and deciphering strategy by the opposing side. The second situation the sportswriter describes involves the intervention of non-players using technological surreptitious and forbidden assistance.
Powell further demonstrates his ethical obtuseness by citing statistics that seem to show that the Astros cheating at home didn’t help them: in the year in question, 2017, the team hit better on the road, when they had to steal signs the old-fashioned way.
Ugh. This is one of the Barry Bonds steroids rationalizations: his cheating doesn’t matter, because he didn’t need to cheat. To fall back on my favorite analogy, if a law grad cheats on his bar exam by getting the answers in advance, her excuse that she knew all the right answers anyway doesn’t mitigate the cheating in any way. The only fact that matters is that an individual intentionally broke a law or rule, not what the results of the violation were.
This is more proof of the general ethics ignorance that infests society. Powell is a columnist; he’s supposed to be an authority, and he has the understanding of ethics of a sixth-grader.
3. And speaking of the ethics comprehension of sixth graders, I give you…a) Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who said yesterday that Democratic Senators running for the party’s 2020 nomination should recuse themselves from taking part in President Trump‘s impeachment trial. That’s obviously disingenuous and ridiculous: if she really believes that, she should go back to high school civics class. Obviously all of the Senators on both sides, not just the Senatorial candidates for President, have conflicts of interest that would require them being excluded from a jury—but this is not a criminal trial. It’s a political process, and partisan and personal conflicts are unavoidable. Among other matters, Democratic Senators, like their House counterparts, have an interest in having anyone other than Trump at the top of the GOP ticket in November. I could make a strong argument for all the Senators on both parties recusing themselves….which is why none of them should. And…
b) The always amusing Senator Kamala Harris (D-Cal), who argued yesterday that President Trump’s judicial nominations shouldn’t be voted upon in the Senate while the impeachment fiasco is playing out. Unfortunately, there is nothing in law, precedent, the Constitution or common sense that suggests that a President’s powers and the business of the government are affected in any way by impeachment proceedings. Having warped the impeachment process already to turn it into a pure partisan weapon against the opposing party’s President, Democrats now want to add further motivation for future parties with the majority in the House to undermine democracy.
4. Now THIS is an unethical prosecutor...Caitlin Rice, a Chester County (Pennsylvania) prosecutor, was arrested for shoplifting $400 worth of food at a grocery store.on New Year’s Eve. Now she’s an ex-prosecutor.
Is there any way to explain this other than mental illness?
5. If you haven’t been paying attention, Governor Ralph Northam and the new Democratic majority in the Virginia (I live there!) legislature are drunk with power, and their excesses may well make independents and even the few remaining sane Democrats wary of what giving that party control means. His latest is to declare a state emergency and ban all weapons, including guns of course, from a legal, long planned rally at the Capitol in Richmond over the looming attacks on gun rights planned by the Governor.
Northam said at a press conference Wednesday that authorities believe “armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol” during the January 20 demonstration, and that that law enforcement had intercepted threats and “extremist rhetoric” similar to what was observed prior to the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. “We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here,” he said.
I am 100% certain that nobody intends to literally “storm the Capital,” and that what is being planned is known as “a legal demonstration.” Anti-civil rights publications referred to Reverend King’s March on Washington as “storming” the Capital.
The governor didn’t explain that the violence in Charlottesville resulted not from the extreme right group that had obtained a permit to march there, but a counter-protest, without a permit and including the antifa, that police allowed to clash with the demonstrators, resulting in a fatality…not from guns , however, contrary to the Governor’s innuendo, but from an automobile.
Northam said, disingenuously, “I believe them when they say this is a peaceful event — that’s what democracy is. Unfortunately, they have unleashed something much larger, something they may not be able to control.” In other words, they have “unleashed” potentially violent opposition from Northam’s supporters
Northam is chilling speech, and Virginia’s governor is also abusing his powers to declare citizen access to three rights—speech, assembly, and the right o bear arms—an “emergency.”