Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/2020: Post-Fourth Hangover Edition

Except it’s not alcohol, it’s all the anti-America agitprop that has me groggy…

1. One last Fourth of July resource: here is one of many annotated versions of the Declaration. Here is another.

2. The downside of paying baseball players so much. Major League Baseball is plunging forward with a season of sorts, only 60 games long and with some hopefully temporary rules, such as a universal Designated Hitter and an extra-inning stunt so revolting that I don’t even want to think about it. The players are getting a pro-rated salary, but the Players Union insisted that any player could opt out of the season for a legitimate health related reason, such as being at in a  high risk group, and collect his salary, or for ny reason, and waive his salary.

It has been fascinating to see some players decide to not play, thus leaving their teams in the lurch, because its just not worth the effort. Take, for example, Dodgers starting pitcher, fresh off of a trade by the Red Sox. He announced that he won’t be playing, and will forfeit 11 million dollars (of his usual 30 million dollar a year salary)for the privilege. Felix Hernandez, another former ace now with the Braves, also opted out, though he loses far less, since he was working on a minor league contract while trying to keep his recently declining career going. In both cases, however, the pitchers are taking a major risk, because sitting out a full season for older players often makes returning to action difficult. In addition, especially in the case of Price and some of the other opt-outs, the decision not to play harms his team and team mates. But David Price has earned about 250 million dollars in his career, and will earn another 50 million whether can pitch or not. Hernandez has already earned more than 200 million.

Love of the game? For the good of the team? Never mind. The players are motivated only by money, and once enough is in stocks and bonds, even that isn’t motivation enough.

3. Surprise! It turns out that police are necessary after all.  Any hope that a reasonable and practical answer to Question 13 (“What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?”) vanished when the first substantive measure embraced by the mob was “Defund the police.” That this was even floated, much less executed (as in Minneaplois and New York City) was signature significance for a level if ignorance and recklessness justifying this standard Ethics Alarms clip:

Chris Rufo explains at City Journal just how stupid:

The CHAZ saga [in Seattle] began on June 8, under the premise that capitalism, police brutality, and the “fascist regime” of Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan were upholding a social order that systemically oppressed African-Americans. Black Lives Matter and Antifa-affiliated activists hoped to create a new regime based on familiar social-justice principles of recent years: they established a social order based on a “reverse hierarchy of oppression,” implemented race-based segregation in public spaces, and maintained a “police-free zone” that they believed would protect “people of color” from the depredations of the state….

Ultimately, the problem of violence–and a dangerously naive understanding of policing–doomed the CHAZ. Over its 24-day history, the autonomous zone saw two gun homicides and four additional shooting victims. All the identified victims were black men–precisely the demographic for whom the CHAZ had claimed to offer protection. In the absence of a legitimate police force, armed criminal gangs and untrained anarchist paramilitaries filled the void. Almost every night, gunshots rang through the streets. The first homicide victim was killed in an outburst of gang violence; the second, reportedly unarmed and joyriding in a stolen car, was gunned down by the “CHAZ security force.”

In the end, the homicide rate in the CHAZ turned out to be 1,216 per 100,000–nearly 50 times greater than Chicago’s. Though that’s obviously not a strict apples-to-apples comparison–the small sample size of the CHAZ creates an exaggerated statistical effect–it’s instructive nonetheless, as it invalidates the entire premise of the autonomous zone. By instituting a “police-free zone,” the CHAZ didn’t become peaceable; it became lawless, brutish, and violent.

…as anyone not in the grip of crippling ideological fantasies could have predicted.

4. In another shock, Michael Cohen broke the conditions of his release from jail. Ethics Alarms first flagged former Trump fixer Michael Cohen in 2015, writing, “Seldom do we see any lawyer befoul the image and dignity of his profession like Michael Cohen, Esquire, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, did yesterday.” Nothing that Cohen has done since then came as the least surprise, but this is blatant even for him.

Cohen, 53, is supposed to be serving a three-year sentence for various crimes that include tax evasion, bank fraud and lying to Congress. The federal Bureau of Prisons released him as a safety measure  due to the epidemic on May 20, but is still confined to house arrest.

Yet the New York Post photographed him last week,dining out at a sidewalk table outside Le Bilboquet, a French restaurant around the corner from his Park Avenue apartment. Even though his lawyer is spinning like crazy to try to explain it, it is likely that Cohen can’t even be a prisoner ethically.

5., presenting the ugly underbelly of American historical ignorance. Incredibly enough, this is not from The Babylon Bee. The argument presented for “canceling” Christopher Columbus below is only slightly more cretinous than those offered to topple statues to Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson. [Vandals—not “protesters”—in Baltimore toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the Inner Harbor,  WBAL reported. Not surpisingly, the racially biased Baltimore government did nothing to stop the mob] In particular, I am amused by the implication that deservedly honored historical figures should have been admirable human beings in addition to their accomplishments. High achievers, including leaders, are often dis-likable people, and frequently awful human beings. Whether Columbus was a saint or a villain, he is honored for having the foresight and courage to set out across the ocean and begin the process of the European migration to the New World that altered civilization, thought, science, commerce–just about everything. The dewy-eyed sentimentalists who blame Columbus for the inevitable disruption of native populations are committed to a fantasy, and if they think the world would be better off if Native Americans still hunted buffalo on the plains, they are too naive to be permitted outside without a leash. Discovery and human progress is, and necessarily is, ugly, violent, and cruel to an unavoidable extent. Western civilization is indebted to Columbus, and it is the beneficiaries of Western civilization who should honor him, not, as the hilarious petition below seems to think, merely Italians.

Well, I’ve stalled enough. Here is the petition. Abandanza!

11 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/2020: Post-Fourth Hangover Edition

  1. 2. Chicken-shit athletes in their prime being afraid of catching Covid disgust me. The upside is I’ve weaned myself from my televised pro golf addiction. I just don’t give a shit how any of those bratty gazillionaires do anymore. Adios boys. Have a great life. Frankly, I’m not inclined to go back to watching baseball on TV anymore either. I’ve come to prefer doing nothing rather than watching pampered gazillionaires play baseball. (I’ve long since dropped college and pro football and basketball, praise Allah.)

    That being said, soccer (EPL) is back on in the OB/Mrs. OB household due to Mrs. OB. It is extremely interesting to watch the broadcasts of games played in empty stadiums. The intensity is next to zero. They might as well be scrimmages at a training facility. Hardly any aggressive tackles and virtually no penalties and few yellow cards and no red cards at all. I’m surprised they don’t just play shirts and skins. I think any MLB games played in empty stadiums for a solely television audience are going to be about as interesting as watching spring ball. I bet viewership and ad revenue will fall off a cliff. Playing in front of coaches and playing in front of crowds is simply totally different.

  2. You know who objected to the erection of statues of Christopher Columbus? The Ku Klux Klan, that’s who! You tear down those statues and the Klan wins! Is that what you hippies want?

    It is not the first time that humanity has despised those who came before — and certainly, some of the world-changers were despicable. While many deserve to be reviled, others must necessarily be considered in the co text of their times. George Washington was a slaveowner, a poor businessman, and a constant loser in the battlefield. He did, however, say he wanted “a plan adopted for the abolition” of slavery, but he retreated, looking instead to whether there was legislative authority (of course there wasn’t). About a year before his death, he opined “I can foresee that nothing but the rioting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union.” Nevertheless, although he provided for his slaves in his will, he did not free them in his lifetime. But can anyone rationally contend that he was not only a leading force behind the establishment of our country, but showed us how to walk away from power? Thomas Jefferson was a political dirty trickster, a slaveholder and either a lover of or unethical user of his power (or both) over Sally Hemmings. But there is no denying that he penned some of the most aspirational words in our history. Abraham Lincoln, usually given credit for freeing “the slaves” didn’t really. His proclamation freed slaves in the Confederate States, but not in the North and West. He also said that he would free them all, some of them, or none of them if it would preserve the union. Yet, he is deservedly revered for his “conscience” and for ensuring that a fractured union was reunited. Teddy Roosevelt, a Progressive (with capital P) in his time expanded executive authority with aggressive actions (sound familiar today?) ; and he also said “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” In spite of his flaws, he modernized the presidency, Launched National Parks and conservation efforts, and greatly limited corruption. FDR is an icon (and rightly so) of progressives, yet can anyone argue that his incarceration (for that’s what it was) of thousands of Japanese Americans, his policies toward Jewish refugees, and his opposition to anti-lynching legislation would endear him to today’s political leaders (left or right)? Although they were all flawed, some deeply, they contributed much and deserve respect. All this leads me, as a committed (or perhaps should be committed) Francophile to a quote from a 16th century French poet. “ Frères humains qui après nous vivez
    N’ayez les couers contre nous endurciz.” (Loosely translated, “Brother humans who live after us, do not harden your hearts against us” ). Seems like good advice.

    • Let me elaborate a bit on your excellent observations.

      On Washington: His evolving ideas about slavery have to be treated as a footnote to the main text of his career, which was his preternatural talent as a leader, the respect he managed to receive from the den of scorpions and narcissists who founded the nation, and literally the best person imaginable to be the first President. Try to imagine any other Founder, or even any later POTUS, in that role, and the likelihood is doom. The brilliance of his military leadership was not that he won all his battles, but the he avoided losing until he could win decisively.

      On Jefferson: I’m not a Jefferson fan, because he was personally a pretty lousy human being. However, that’s as irrelevant to why we honor him as slavery is to GW. The Declaration was more than just aspirational. It was the Mission Statement, and thus informed the Constitution. Its language set the fuse for the eventual abolition of slavery…we have to remember that Jefferson’s original draft specifically condemned the slave trade, and it was vetoed by the Southern delegates. Jefferson also was able to write the document that somehow got the contentiousness Congress to vote for independence. As with Washington, there probably is no US without him, and that means he is owed eternal respect.

      3. TR was a colonist, a white supremacist and a warmonger, but he assisted the labor movement by opposing moneied interests, and he began the process of breaking up the monopolies. And he did end a war, which got him the Nobel Prize.He made the US a world power, in part just by acting like we were one. It’s also amazing how focus changes–now everyone talks about the National parks, which are nice, but 20 years ago, if you asked what TR’s biggest achievement was, most would immediately cite building the Panama Canal.

  4. How do I edit my comment? The one posted is my ore-edited version and has several mistakes in it!! I tried to edit and repost but it was rejected

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