You really didn’t think I was only going to write about baseball today, did you? Now, if I operated like CNN and the other networks, I might skip the current baseball ethics story entirely, since it’s not what my audience wants to hear about, obviously. But it is, in fact, the newest, most generally revealing and best ethics story out there, and Ethics Alarms isn’t here for profit or popularity. ALSO obviously.
Unfortunately, this has some unintended consequences, like my choice, 25 years ago, to concentrate my professional efforts on ethics. Despite all lip service to the contrary, law firms, Fortune 500 companies, professions, local governments and businesses generally don’t regard ethics as a high priority, so when the lock down made these and other entities cut “non-essentials,” ethics training was one of the first to go. ProEthics has weathered this period better than it might have thanks to legal ethics consulting and expert witness work, but right now we’re in our worst and scariest cash crunch ever, thanks to a wave of unexpected expenses arriving at exactly the wrong time. The reason there were no posts up yesterday afternoon and this morning is that I have to solve this problem, and the time and effort it requires risks interfering with Ethics Alarms.
Like William Saroyan, I resent that the need for money conflicts with doing what we want to do in life, but then, having chosen ethics as my vocation over many more traditional and lucrative options open to me (except theater: ethics is a lot more lucrative than theater), I set my self up for the Hyman Roth lecture: “This is the life we have chosen…” I give myself that one at least once a week.
But enough about my problems. On to Not Baseball!
1. Are you sick of this unethical narrative? I sure am. On today’s NYT front page, we are told that then-President Trump, “defying norms”—there’s that phony “norms” charge again—urged the Justice Department to investigate “false claims” of election fraud after the 2020 election. Well.
A. There is no norm for what a President should do if he genuinely believes that an election was rigged, stolen, or that there is a strong possibility that it may have been. The office is charged with protecting the Constitution, and such entreaties to the DOJ seem to me to be absolutely consistent with a President’s obligations.
B. The Times cannot say such claims are false, because the Times doesn’t know they are false.
C. As Nate Silver noted recently in another context, the constant refrain that a claim is false by those implicated in that claim without an accompanying desire to investigate the matter raises a rebuttable presumption that the claim may not be false after all.
2. Speaking of double standards and the black Anne Boleyn: The movie based on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning Broadway musical musical “In the Heights” was released in theaters and on HBO Max last week, earning positive reviews. But the film is being criticized for casting light-skinned Latino actors in leading roles, despite dark-skinned Latinos being in the majority within the neighborhood where the movie was filmed, Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Naturally, the “Hamilton” creator and star groveled an apology–not for casting the wrong race, but for casting the the wrong skin shade. He tweeted:
This man, who cast all actors of color to portray the life of white Alexander Hamilton and his and fellow Founders in “Hamilton,” is apologizing for casting actors who are the “wrong” skin shade in his current project. He is a coward, a hypocrite, and a weenie. I’m through paying attention to anything he says.
3. Here is a “norm” that it is unethical to breach: Former President Trump announced yesterday that he will make a trip to the southern border at the invitation of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He then excoriated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for refusing to make a similar trip to the area despite the illegal immigration crisis he referred to as the “wreckage they created.”
He’s right about that last part, the U.S. has a President, and does not need a shadow President deliberately working to undermine him. This is one step worse than sniping from the sidelines. Senators should visit the border; activists and journalists should visit the border. Trump, more than anyone else, should not.
4. IIPTDXTTNMIAFB* note of the day… CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny asked President Biden: “In a weekend interview, Vladimir Putin laughed at the suggestion that you had called him a ‘killer.’ Is that still your belief, sir, that he is a killer?”
Biden’s answer, from the official White House transcript: “Well, look, I mean, he has made clear that — the answer is: I believe he has, in the past, essentially acknowledged that he was — there were certain things that he would do or did do. But look, when I was asked that question on air, I answered it honestly. But it’s not much of a — I don’t think it matters a whole lot, in terms of this next meeting we’re about to have.”
If Trump had answered a question like that while overseas, MSNBC would have Bandy Lee on the explain that he was mentally incapable of being President.
UPDATE: In related news, President Biden today repeated the lie—at this point, he has to know it isn’t true—that Capitol rioters “killed a police officer,” referring to Brian Sicknick, who died of natural causes the day after January 6.
5. Air travel ethics: Finally, this handy reference, courtesy of Jalopnik. I wonder when I will fly again? I guarantee it won’t be until the carriers stop making people wear masks between sips of Coke…
*“Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”