What a delightful afternoon!
It never fails. After a stretch where I am especially pleased with the quantity and quality of Ethics Alarms content, I lose followers. Occasionally someone has the courtesy to contact me and tell me why they are dropping Ethics Alarms, but usually not. I know I obsess about such things, but it is like being defriended: I deserve the courtesy of a direct contact and an explanation. One well-remembered exit was by a woman who was very active the comments but always regrading formal ethics theory. I know that stuff, I studied it, and it bores me to tears. I also view the academic approach to ethics as substantially responsible for the public’s general disinterest in ethics generally. When I finally told the ethics enthusiast that this wasn’t the kind of ethics blog she was looking for, she sent me an email that announced her departure.
1. Of course, the big news yesterday…was that the Boston Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two young players and the willingness to take on the ridiculous contract of an aging, injury prone ex-ace, David Price. Boston being Boston, this was a story of much more consequence in the Hub than the State of the Union, the Democrats continuing inability to run caucuses in Iowa, or the resolution of the impeachment washout. This shows, as I have always known as a born and bred Bostonian, that the city has its priorities straight.
Betts is that rarity, a young, great player who can do everything well, and do it with charm and modesty. He should be the face of the franchise for the next decade, but there’s a problem: Mookie wants to test the free agent market after this season, when he is eligible to do so. The Red Sox have offered him a long term deal in each of the last two seasons, and he recently rejected an offer in excess of 300 million dollars for ten years. On the open market Betts might get 30% more than that, and the Sox are loath to get into a bidding war. Thus, to avoid the fate of the Washington Nationals, who allowed their similarly young superstar Bryce Harper to flee without getting more than a draft choice in return (Mookie is better and nicer that Bryce), the Red Sox swallowed hard and traded him to the Dodgers.
- In the trade, Boston gave up the best African American player in its long prejudice-stained history as well as its single African American starting pitcher. It says something about the team’s progress in this area that nobody has seemed to notice.
- In trading Betts and Price after firing Alex Cora, the team’s manager implicated in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, the Red Sox just happened to bid farewell to the three most vocal boycotters of President Trump’s invitation to the team to be honored at the White House for the its 2018 World Series victory. Red Sox cohesion was never the same after the grandstanding “Orange Man Bad” explosion that split the squad down the middle. Mookie never seemed quite as nice after that; Cora never seemed as wise, and Price always was a jerk.
- Betts has told anyone who would listen that he wanted to stay in Boston, that he loves the city and fans, and that the Red Sox were just proving that baseball is a business. That’s disingenuous spin, and clearly so. If you really want to stay with a team, then you accept the paltry wages of more than 30 million dollars a year to do so.
2. Since there seems to be a strong disagreement among the commentariat on this question, I need to poll it:
3. Karma is ethics, sort of, right? In the messed-up Iowa Caucuses, 2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren finished in fifth place in Pocahontas County, Iowa .
4. Accountability is a crucial ethical value. Without adopting the habit of accepting it “when an inspector calls,” it is impossible to improve one’s skills and conduct. Blaming someone else is easy in the short term, but personally destructive over time. For some reason, many Democrats and their supporters have decided that accountability is something to be avoided at all costs. We saw dire signs of this when Hillary Clinton said she took “responsibility” for the Benghazi tragedy but refused to accept any consequences of that responsibly. Obama AG Eric Holder behaved as if Fast and Furious involved an alien agency; Barack Obama metaphorically shrugged his shoulders at his IRS Department’s successful and illegal efforts to knee-cap Tea Party groups during the 2012 campaign.
As the ridiculous botch of the supposedly pivotal Iowa Caucuses called into question the competence and perhaps the integrity of the Democratic National Committee, efforts were made, as I noted yesterday, to blame Iowa or “computers” for the long list of problems. Now some have moved on to blaming white people, racism, and, of course, President Trump. For example, MSNBC political analyst and former Clinton campaign aide Zerlina Maxwell claimed the reason caucus turnout in Iowa was below expectations was that white people don’t care about “brown kids in cages.” She then accused Iowa’s “systemic racism” of producing a white voter majority. [Psst! The reason voter turnout was low was probably because the Democratic field is depressingly unappealing. Occam’s Razor applies.] Then quixotic Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang issued this ridiculous tweet:
The hypocrisy zenith was probably reached by Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who tweeted,
That spin takes either amazing gall or complete delusion. Democrats have sought to undermine elections, the Supreme Court, the Constitution and the President; the press has disgraced itself and the both parties have proven themselves incompetent of governing. The FBI and the Justice Department have proved themselves untrustworthy. Calling attention to the malfunctioning of institutions as demonstrated by the Iowa botch isn’t undermining them. The idea is to promote accountability.
5. The Never-Trumpers. Mitt Romney voted to convict President Trump today, though his reasoning was incoherent, like anyone who claims that there is a valid impeachment argument. Romney has no political convictions, so his visceral dislike of Trump is sufficient to allow him to rationalize his vote and allow the Democrats to claim that their failed effort was “bipartisan.” This will surely be hailed as a profile in courage.
ADDENDUM from Althouse: “Quick! Mitt! Change parties. Become a Democrat, and go for the nomination for President this year.”
Recently another petulant Never-Trumper, Bill Kristol, announced that he is now a Democrat, at least as long as Trump is President. Kristol’s tantrum over someone he believes beneath him winning the Presidency has cost him his once influential magazine and his reputation for integrity. He would now prefer to vote for candidates whose ideology and policy nostrums he has opposed his entire career to avoid allying himself with someone he detests.
Bias makes us stupid, and it also can make us irrelevant and ridiculous.