June 5, the day before D-Day, is another date chock full of ethics history. It doesn’t count, but Ronald Reagan died on this date in 2004: I was just thinking that the Great Stupid would have killed him. In Presidential history, this was the day, in 1888, President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have given a pension to war widow Johanna Loewinger, whose Civil War vet husband died 14 years after being discharged from the army. He was discharged a little less than a year after enlisting for what the army surgeon’s certificate called chronic diarrhea. Loewinger received his pension until he cut his throat in 1876. When Johanna applied for a widow’s pension it was denied; his suicide was not considered to be caused by his military service. Johanna argued that the death was part of the insanity triggered by his war service, and appealed to a member of Congress to petition Cleveland with a bill. But the President declared all previous inquests into the former soldier’s unfortunate death to be satisfactory. Mrs. Loewinger got no pension.
I always thought this was gutsy of Cleveland (or something), since he had paid someone to serve in the Union army for him after he was drafted. But there were bigger ethics landmarks on June 5:
This answers a question I’ve had ever since softball player Jessica Mendoza was added to the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team: how can a nice, all-American girl like Jessica not gag having to work with Alex Rodriguez, one of the most loathsome personalities in baseball history?
Rodriguez, after all, was caught twice using banned PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), lied repeatedly throughout his career to the public, the press, and team authorities, was handed one of the longest suspensions ever given to a player, and was caught cheating in various ways whenever he thought he could get away with it. (My personal favorite was when he shouted “Mine!” as he ran from second to third while a pop-up was over the infield, causing the opposing shortstop to let the ball drop because he thought a team mate had called for the ball. ) His odious presence in the ESPN booth is why I usually refuse to watch games broadcast by the trio of A-Rod, Jessica and play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian—well, that and the fact that they are terrible, habitually engaging in inane happy-talk that often has nothing to do with what’s happening on the field.
Yesterday Mendoza appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Golic and Wingo” show to discuss the baseball’s sign-stealing scandal that has—so far, because more is coming— led to the firing of three teams’ managers, the dismissal of a successful general manager, and cast a long shadow on the World Championships of the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Oakland A’s pitcher Mike Fiers made himself a likely permanent pariah in his sport by blowing the whistle to the press on his former team, the 2017 Houston Astros, who engaged in an elaborate sign-stealing scheme via hidden cameras, electronic relays and, uh, trashcan banging for the entire 2017 season and post-season. The consensus, at least in public, around the game is that Fiers did the right thing for the long-term integrity of baseball.
This is always one of the strangest days of the year.
Especially strange for me: I keeled over right at the start of Thanksgiving dinner for no discernible reason. One minute I was sipping a beer and feeling oddly light-headed, and the next my son was lifting me off the floor. It must have been spectacular, because it scared the hell out of everyone but my son’s girlfriend, who assumed I was staging a gag. (She got to know me fast…) I’m sorry I missed the excitement.
Today I’ve been feeling out of it, but I can’t tell whether the cause is the fainting spell, L-Tryptophan, or something else (it has been a rough week). My wife has been following me around like a bloodhound, expecting me to go down for the count.
I’ll be seeing my doctor first thing Monday. But enough about me:
1. Tit for Tat. Three women, Jana Solis, Natalie Sept and Nicole Vogel, accused Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, of making unwanted sexual advances toward them years ago, right after he testified as a star witness at the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Sondland appeared before Congress and gave what was viewed by many as damaging testimony about the President’s dealings with Ukraine and the alleged “quid pro quo.” The timing of the accusations is suspicious, and the Left has no one to blame but itself as its weaponized “believe all women” nonsense circles around like the deadly torpedo in “The Hunt for the Red October.” This was begun by Anita Hill, escalated by Cristina Blasey Ford, and soon such convenient accusations will have no power whatsoever.
2.Please remember: Hillary Cinton is (at least) as rotten a human being as Donald Trump, just a different kind of rotten human being. Journalist Ronan Farrow told the Financial Times that Hillary Clinton cut him off him when she discovered he was investigating sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein donated tens of thousands of dollars to groups supporting Clinton’s candidacy during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Committee data.
Though Clinton had appointed Farrow as her special adviser on global youth issues in 2011 when she was Secretary of State and he had worked with Clinton “for years,” she quickly distanced herself from him and cancelled an interview after she learned that he was looking into Weinstein’s harassment and sexual abuse.
“It’s remarkable how quickly even people with a long relationship with you will turn if you threaten the centers of power or the sources of funding around them,” Farrow said. “Ultimately, there are a lot of people out there who operate in that way. They’re beholden to powerful interests and if you go up against those interests, you become radioactive very quickly.”
It’s not remarkable. What’s remarkable is that so many women still get misty over the fact that this cynical hypocrite who pretended to be a feminist champion while allying herself with people like Bill Clinton and Harvey Weinstein was deservedly defeated in the 2016 election. Continue reading →
Why, I asked, on such a beautiful May day, am I inside writing about ethics? And my wife turned into Hymen Roth…
1. PLEASE stop making me defend Alex Rodriguez, who is one of my least favorite human beings, never mind former athletes, on the planet, and yet…this is a strict Golden Rule issue. The ex-Yankees (also Texas and Seattle) slugger was photographed sitting on his toilet in his luxury apartment’s bathroom. The shot was apparently taken by a rogue photographer in a high rise office building next to the apartment building where A-Rod shares a $17.5 million apartment with Jennifer Lopez, whose movies are now beneath those of Adam Sandler and Tom Arnold on my playlist.
Legal precedent in New York suggests than Rodriquez has no case, because in 2015, an appeals court ruled that a gallery show of images snapped through less famous New Yorkers’ windows by an “artist” was not a privacy violation. (I wrote about that photographer here; perhaps the title gives you a sense of where I came out on my analysis: “Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep”]
Fine, I see the legal point. If you don’t want people taking photos of you, then keep your window blinds down. However,just because you can do something crappy to another human being doesn’t make it right.
Lofton, a great baseball player for many years, had the guts to articulate nicely my nausea every time I am forced to watch the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team of Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Mendoza, and Matt Vasgersian. It’s a horrible trio, even if you don’t know that Rodriguez is such a loathsome individual and a blight on the game he played. For much of each broadcast, they sit around joking and blathering while barely paying attention to what’s happening on the field. This would be annoying if they were members of the Algonquin Roundtable, but none of the three are especially clever, insightful or witty. It is obvious that the producers hand them the game’s alleged “narrative,” and they flog it for three hours, as if anyone who understands baseball watches a typical game that way.
But I digress. The issue at hand, flagged by Lofton, is Rodriquez, soon to be Mr. Jennifer Lopez, and there goes another performer I will never watch again. Lofton told the New York Post last month, beginning with the issue of known and suspected steroid and PED cheats being eligible for election to the Hall of Fame:
“I just don’t like it. It pisses me off when they still talk about the guys who did PEDs still have the opportunity to get in. You cheated the game. Look at somebody like Pete Rose not in the Hall of Fame. I’m not saying what Pete Rose did was right, but his numbers that he put up were real numbers. If it’s all about numbers, guys who cheated the game shouldn’t be in. PED guys piss me off. I just get irked every time I hear people talk about it. You’ve got… a guy [Rodriguez] who got caught with PEDs doing the World Series. I can’t even watch the World Series now. That’s sad, you have a game that I love, I played 17 years in it, and you have Major League Baseball allowing a guy that knowingly cheated the game twice, and he’s the face of baseball, doing the World Series. That is not cool. To see somebody who cheated the game blatantly is doing the World Series? Come on, people. You’re basically telling kids nowadays that it’s OK to cheat the game of baseball. It’s OK to cheat. You will still get a job being a commentator, being the face of baseball. I don’t see how that flies with anyone.”
1. A plug. The computer rescue service GuruAid is why I couldn’t get a Warm-Up post up yesterday: about four different technicians spend from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm helping me fix a serious malfunction in my old Dell PC, so I wouldn’t have to lose Windows 7 forever. It wreaked havoc with my day and schedule, but the computer finally starts immediately without black-outs, red screens, blue screens, warning, check points, sudden freezes and other distractions.
2. Yeah, why waste time on all of this “values” stuff? The Texas Board of Education will decide in the coming months whether to accept the recommendations of a working group to end state requirements that the heroism of the Alamo’s defenders be taught to seventh graders in a required history course, as as study of William Barrett Travis’s iconic letter written before the final Mexican siege that killed all of the approximately 200 defenders, including Travis. The letter ends, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.”
The group of educators and historians, tasked with streamlining social-studies standards, felt that teaching about “heroic” acts at the Alamo was “value-loaded,” and eliminating them from the curriculum, along with the significance of such Alamo figures as Davy Crockett and James Bowie would save 90 minutes.
You know, I don’t think I’m even going to bother explaining what’s wrong and alarming about this, except to note that if you wonder why our rising generations don’t understand what has been great about America, or why being a nation founded on values and ideals is important, this episode ought to enlighten you.
3. Beach ethics.Here is an interesting article about how to maximize ethical conduct at the beach. Continue reading →
1. Why is Alex Rodriguez on the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team? I’m watching the game (Boston at Houston), and I’m wondering, “There weren’t any ex-players who weren’t suspended for a full season for cheating with PED’s (banned performance enhancing drugs)? There aren’t any ex-players who didn’t repeatedly lie to fans and sportswriters, and generally behave like a loathsome creep both on and off the field?”
Rodriguez will be up for membership in the Hall of Fame shortly, and he falls so short of the minimal requirements of the museum’s character clause that if it were a contest between A-Rod and Barry Bonds, Bonds would win in a landslide, and his election would provoke a major protest among living Hall members.
What kind of values does employing Rodriguez convey to kid viewing the game? What does it say about ESPN’s values, or Disney’s, its parent? Why does Major League Baseball allow a sociopath like A-Rod to represent the game on television?
2. And you thought Trump was a raging narcissist…Maureen Dowd has a damning column about Barack Obama that she muffles with equivocation, perhaps out of fear that Times readers can’t handle the truth, just like they can’t handle the results of Presidential elections. Some excerpts…
Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Rhodes writes in his new book, “The World as It Is,” Obama asked his aides, “What if we were wrong?”But in his next breath, the president made it clear that what he meant was: What if we were wrong in being so right? What if we were too good for these people? “Maybe we pushed too far,” the president continued. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
This from the most tribe-obsessed, intentionally divisive U.S. President in memory.
“Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” Obama mused to aides. We just weren’t ready for his amazing awesomeness.
Ack. Gag. Obama was a largely incompetent President and ineffectual leader, and yet he accepts no accountability whatsoever. His failures were everyone else’s fault. Yecchh. The man’s character is as offensive as Trump’s, just different.
“I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have seen it coming,” Rhodes writes about the “darkness” that enveloped him when he saw the electoral map turn red. “Because when you distilled it, stripped out the racism and misogyny, we’d run against Hillary eight years ago with the same message Trump had used: She’s part of a corrupt establishment that can’t be trusted to change.”
Bad time to figure that out.
Ya think? Especially since Obama ‘s administration was corrupt itself, as Hillary’s prominent role in it amply demonstrated.
Obama did not like persuading people to do what they didn’t want to do. And that is the definition of politics. He wanted them simply to do what he had ascertained to be right. President Obama could be deliberative, reticent and cautious to a fault, which spurred an appetite for a more impulsive, visceral, hurly-burly successor.
Translation: Obama was weak, and Americans prefer strong Presidents. He paved the way for Trump. And he doesn’t understand at all, because his courtiers and the suck-up news media would only tell him that he was wonderful…for eight years. Continue reading →
The ex players are (R to L), Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, banned Pete Rose, rapidly fading from memory Raul Ibanez, and the nearly universally detested Alex Rodriguez.
Among the commentators at the desk in the pre- and post game show for FS1 (that’s Fox Sports One) as it carries the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Dodgers, are Pete Rose, and Alex Rodriquez.
Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, is banned from baseball for gambling on the game while a manager. This has been taboo since the 1919 World Series was fixed by gamblers. (Donald Trump has never accepted that the Cincinnati Reds won). Rose lied about whether he bet on baseball for over a decade, then he lied about whether he bet on his own team a little longer. In the meantime, he served prison time for tax evasion.
Alex Rodriquez eventually was suspended from baseball for more than a season for using banned performance enhancing drugs, years after he tested positive for steroid use and told the public sincerely that it was “one mistake” and he’d never do it again. He is also a serial liar. Eventually the increasingly cynical and ethically-addled younger sportswriters may vote him into the Hall of Fame, but he is second only to Barry Bonds as the worst of the worst. Currently, he is regarded as flunking the Hall’s character and sportsmanship requirement.Duh.Continue reading →
I wrote in an earlier Ethics Quiz that the retirement of Yankee Cheat and Head Creep Alex Rodriguez tomorrow would put the Boston Red Sox in a difficult position tonight. Should they honor him, as the Yankees will honor Red Sox star David Ortiz in his final appearance in Yankees Stadium? Or should they eschew any recognition, since the Boston fans hate Alex’s guts?
Apparently, as often is the case, the problem was not as difficult as my ethical alarms were telling me. The Sox won’t even give A-Rod a cupcake. There will be no recognition of his career, other than the symphony of boos that will rain down on him from the Fenway Faithful every single time he comes to bat.
Over the weekend, as reported here, Yankee superstar/pariah/cheating jerk for the ages Alex Rodriguez announced that he would “retire” after next Friday night’s game. He’s not really retiring, of course. Like almost everything involving A-Rod, lies and cover-ups reign. Since the Yankees were going to have to pay the rest of his contract to the tune of 27 million bucks either way, they told Alex that they could release him, thus ending his career on a sour note, or allow him to pretend to make the decision to leave the game himself, which would be better PR for all concerned.
However, the announcement presents a problem for the Boston Red Sox. A-Rod’s next-to-last game is Thursday night in Fenway Park, and a player with Rodriguez’s astounding career on-field achievements would typically warrant an on-field salute, like the Sox gave Yankee icon Derek Jeter when he retired. The problem is that Red Sox fans don’t like or respect A-Rod, and they shouldn’t. No baseball fan should. He disgraced the game with his drug use and lies; was an unsportsmanlike presence for most of his career, and will not reach the Hall of Fame despite one of the best careers ever unless the Hall junks all of its character requirements.
Yet reciprocity raises its ethical head. David Ortiz, the beloved Red Sox slugger, is also retiring after this season, and the Yankees have planned to give him a big send-off when Big Papi plays his last game in Yankee stadium. How can the Red Sox snub A-Rod, and expect the Yankees to honor their hero? If the Red Sox do hold a ceremony for Rodriquez, will Sox fans use it as an opportunity to heap well-deserved abuse on Alex one last time? If Sox fans fill Fenway with boos, will Yankee fans reciprocate by ruining Ortiz’s moment in New York? (I would give my guess on this, but it might expose a long-held bias against Yankee fans.)
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:
What is the most ethical way to handle this awful situation?