Ethics Quiz: The Fake Inspirational Story

1927NYYankees5

Ethics Alarms touched on this area here, when I related the example of a defense lawyer who won over the jury in the sensational Richard Scrushy fraud case with a vivid but made-up anecdote:

My favorite ethics moment is when Scrushy’s main trial lawyer, Jim Parkman, is asked about his headline-making anecdote in his opening statement, in which he quoted his grandmother as always telling him”every pancake, no matter how thin, has two sides.” “Did your grandmother really say that?” Parkman’s asked on camera. “No,” he admits after a long pause. “But she could have!”

Lying to a jury would seem to be a serious ethical violation for a lawyer, and by the wording of the rules, it should be. But every lawyer I’ve discussed Parkman’s tactic with agrees that such non-substantive lies would never result in professional discipline. (I think they should be.)

But what about inspirational stories and anecdotes that aren’t true? Does the end justify the means? Brian Childers’ story about Tommy Lasorda reminded me of another Lasorda story. Managing in the minors before becoming the third-longest tenured manager with a single team in baseball history, the ever-ebullient leader of the Spokane AAA team was faced with a dispirited squad that has lost nine straight games. Tommy bucked them up by reminding the players that the 1927 Yankees of “Murderer’s Row” fame, then and now the consensus choice as the greatest baseball team of all-time, also lost nine games straight. His team was cheered, and not only broke out of their slump, but went on a winning streak.

Asked later if it was true that the team of the Babe, the “Iron Horse” and the rest ever lost nine in a row, Lasorda answered, “Hell, I don’t know. But it turned my team around when they thought so!!”

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Failed Late Thursday Ethics Review, 11/19/2020 Turned Early Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/2020: Let’s Play “Stupid or Not Stupid”!

Unrelated to any kind of stupid: Yesterday was the anniversary of the demise of my old friend, Glenn White, in 2013. I never got to attend a funeral or service for Glenn; his family didn’t see fit to let me know he had died, despite our association of thirty years. This is what I always will remember about Glenn: He knew what it meant to be a friend. We knew each other through theater, though he was a Fairfax City, Virginia politician. Glenn used to say, “If you need me, Jack, you just have to ask. I’ll be there.” And he always was. When he was in his late 70s, I needed someone to play an old man in one of my theater company’s shows. Glenn used to call himself The American Century Theater’s resident geezer, but he had moved to the Virginia countryside, and it was more than a three hour commute, round trip, to rehearsals and performances. My plight was barely out of my mouth when he said, “Sure, you can count on me.”

How many people do you get to meet in your life who are like that?

1. I really hate this...I spent precious time, as I was trying to get a post in before the clock struck 12 last night, writing about this story, published yesterday and passed along credulously by a U.S.news aggregator, only to find that the events described happened in 2019. I have encountered this before: some website is light on material, so it uses an old story for click-bait without stating the time frame until the very end.

2. Today’s inexcusable, biased, partisan and unethical headline from the New York Times front page: “Trump Targeting Michigan In Ploy To Subvert Election.” Clearly, the Times isn’t even trying any more. The use of “ploy” and “subvert” is not only editorializing, it’s irresponsible editorializing. There were certainly a lot of strange things going on in the Michigan voting and vote-counting;the state should be targeted. (There are strange things going on in Michigan generally.) If the Michigan vote was corrupted, discovering how and how much doesn’t “subvert” anything. If it turns out that Michigan actually was won by Trump—admittedly a remote possibility—then that discovery prevents the election from being subverted.

The Times’ job is to explain what the Trump campaign’s challenges to the election are in factual terms, not to speculate on diabolical motives, to trigger violence and subvert democracy.

3. What does this display remind you of?

Belgian phallus

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Friday Night Ethics Fever, 11/13/2020 [Corrected]

1. “Then they came for Professor Turley…” Jonathan Turley, who has distinguished himself throughout the Trump years and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck with clear, unbiased, non-partisan analysis that generally correctly identifies who is the transgressor and why, was attacked by University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campus who compared his discussion of possible voting irregularities to Holocaust denial. Turley is measured, as usual, in his criticism, but he is obviously troubled by the continuing trend, writing in part,

“It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms. It is therefore an ironic moment as someone who has been writing about the growing intolerance of dissenting views on our campuses and efforts to fire academic.  Some have been targeted for engaging in what is called “both sides rhetoric” rather than supporting a preferred narrative or viewpoint. Campos is arguing that it “would be appropriate to fire” any professor who stated that we should allow these challenges to be heard even though they have not and are unlikely to produce evidence of systemic fraud to overturn these results.  That is a view of academic freedom and viewpoint tolerance shared by some in academia.

I am not the first academic that Campos called to be terminated for his views. In the end, I would defend Campos in his posting such views. Unlike Professor Campos, I do not believe that he should be fired for holding opposing views or even calling for others to be fired. That is the cost of free speech. Indeed, Professor Campos is the cost of free speech.’

And yes, this is exactly what you voted for if you voted for Joe Biden.

In fact, it’s what Professor Turley voted for, as I suspect he did, when he voted for Joe Biden.

2. Regarding another favorite Ethics Alarms blogger…I respect and value Ann Althouse’s opinions and analysis, but boy does she epitomize what’s irresponsible about intellectuals.  There is a constant tone on her blog that it’s all just a big cosmic game, nothing really matters much, and all these intellectually inferior people are running around in circles, obsessing over base and minor matters. Meanwhile, Ann is preoccupied by the fact that there’s a “homophone for alibi,” the relative size of statues, and some local interviewer in Lincoln, Nebraska. These matters seem to concern her about as much as the means by which a President was finally taken down, the cracking of our democratic institutions, and the fact that our journalists have become no better than rumor-mongers and partisan assassins.

It’s that studied distance that academics and those over-educated egotists who are full-time frolickers in the playgrounds of the mind display that makes normal people—and me— suspicious of their motives and judgment.

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Ethics Corrupter: The Boston Red Sox

red_sox disgraced

Sometimes, a mere “ethics dunce” designation isn’t enough.

The decision, announced yesterday, by the Boston Red Sox to rehire disgraced manager Alex Cora to a two-year contract that will again put him at the helm of the team is disgusting and indefensible, unethical to the core. For me, it constitutes 2020’s second major ethics offense by an organization and a sport that has been important on many levels throughout my life, substantially challenging my loyalty and affection.

I was going to call the post “Ethics Strike Two On the Boston Red Sox,” but that formula would require me to give the team a third chance to disgrace itself before I called it “out” of my life, and I don’t know if I can do that. Nonetheless, I’m going to attempt to keep the emotional component of this most recent ethics breach on the metaphorical bench in this post as I try to be objective.

I won’t promise that I will succeed.

Cora was fired by the Red Sox in January after he was found to be the architect of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme, one of the worst scandals in Major League Baseball history, trailing only the 1918 Black Sox scandal and the illegal player steroid era in its degree of damage to the sport. Commissioner Rob Manfred later suspended Cora through the end of the 2020 postseason. The revelation that Cora, a bench coach for then Astros manager A. J. Hinch,  had been at the center of an organized cheating scheme that helped bring the Houston Astros a World Championship also cast a shadow over the following year’s World Championship achieved by the Boston Red Sox, which had hired Cora as its manager. Did the cheating mastermind from Houston bring his unethical ways to his first managing job? Why wouldn’t he?

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Yes, We Have Another New Rationalization! Welcome #20 A: “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance!”

Cora

No, in fact everyone doesn’t.

I encountered this inexplicably omitted rationalization—“inexplicably” because we all hear it so often, yet its obvious rationalization character had not occurred to me—today while reading a post by a friend, a Boston Red Sox sportswriter. My friend was answering a query about who the Sox, just off a terrible season, might tap to become the new manager, since the team had unceremoniously dumped poor Ron Roenicke, who literally never had a chance to do anything but fail. The inquirer wondered if Alex Cora, the Sox manager in 2018 and 2019, might return though he had been fired before the 2020 season since he was serving a year-long suspension for his part in the Houston Astros cheating scandal while he was a Houston coach in 2017. My friend, who has made this same argument to me in private conversations, wrote,

I’m not an oddsmaker, but if I was making the decision, I would bring Cora back in a heartbeat. Players responded well to Cora in his two-year stint managing the Red Sox, and it would obviously be well-received in the clubhouse if he comes back. Cora is also popular among Red Sox fans as many of them have been pining for his return. Bringing Cora back could help to rejuvenate a fan base that was discouraged by the 2020 season. As for the detractors who say he was part of a sign-stealing scandal with the Astros? Everyone deserves a second chance.

Ugh. This was not my friend’s finest hour—wait, that’s a rationalization too (19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”). Okay, the statement was awful:

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Columbus Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/2020: Dumb Tweets, Rigged Reviews, Insane Academics, And Police Conduct Worth Protesting

Is it that time again already? Great, now we have to listen to more Statue Toppling rants from anti-Columbus zealots who don’t think changing the world unquestionably for the better and setting in motion the chain of events that allowed the United States to exist is worthy of a day of recognition.

1. I confess. Although I bailed out of following baseball this “season” when MLB’s groveling to Black Lives Matter became too much to bear, I do check the scores now and then, and thus am taking some pleasure in the fact that the New York Yankees were eliminated in the best of five Divisional Play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays, making it eleven straight years since the Bronx Bombers got to the World Series.

2. Idiotic tweets that did not come from the White House. Whether one believes the Doomsday Polls or not, it is beyond question that President Trump’s prospects this November would be far brighter were he able to resist sending out dumb tweets, many of which I have highlighted here. (There is a Trump Tweets tag, if you want to reminisce. Like so many of his regrettable proclivities, this one is apparently contagious. Powerline recently flagged three head-exploders:

  • From Washington governor Jay Inslee:

Inslee tweet

  • From former CIA director and Deep State Trump saboteur John Brennan:

Brennan Tweet

Those who visit here often know that by Ethics Alarms standard, quoting “Imagine” as if this infantile doggerel by John Lennon is profound automatically wins any “Dumbest” competition.

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Comment Of The Day: “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”

I have been remiss in getting up “Comments of the Day,” another consequence of my frustration adapting to the new WordPress “block” system, damn it.  I usually hand le COTD posts from my laptop, and posts requiring my concentration and composition rather than the imported wisdom of others from the Fortress of Ethics Solitude, my office.

I’m posting this follow-up comment from Here’s Johnny regarding the baseball writers’ gratuitous smear on the original commissioner of baseball based on nothing but rumor, a desire to practice “anti-racism,” without actually doing anything, and the smug assumption that History Doesn’t Matter, Gratitude Doesn’t Matter, and Honors Don’t Matter.

And the dog is licking my toes

UPDATE: Well, that was a failed experiment. When I tried to move the text from Word to WordPress, I couldn’t make the format work from the laptop, so I’m back at my PC. That was 20 more minutes of my increasingly scarce time on Earth robbed by WordPress. I’m thinking of sending them an invoice...

Here’s Here’s Johnny’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America”:

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Oh, Look! More Baseball Ethics Dunces! This Time, It’s the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

mlb-mvp

Yesterday, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) announced that group will remove the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis from the American League and National League Most Valuable Player plaques presented each year to the MVP winners.. Landis has been honored with having the plaques bear his name since 1944, the year of his death. He didn’t do much: he only probably saved the National Pastime at its darkest hour.

It was Landis, a famously tough and uncorruptible federal judge, whom the baseball owners turned to in 1920 in the midst of the Black Sox scandal. The scandal involving the Chicago White Sox throwing the World Series in 1919 under the influence of bribes from gamblers to some key players, including star Shoeless Joe Jackson. Even though the eight accused players were acquitted in their trial, Landis, who remained a judge for two years while serving as Commissioner, banned them all from baseball, laying down a rule that participating in efforts to corrupt the game through gambling or having knowledge of other players doing so and not acting to stop it were grounds for permanent exile. Eighteen players in all, like the infamous Hal Chase, were banned by Landis, who remained commissioner for the rest of his life.

Landis had a memorable career as a judge before coming to baseball’s rescue: in 1907, he thrilled the man who appointed him, Teddy Roosevelt when he fined Standard Oil of Indiana more than $29 million (about $800 million in 2020) for violating federal laws forbidding rebates on railroad freight tariffs.

Why, then, is Landis suddenly the victim of metaphorical statue-toppling? That was a clue: in the wake of the George Floyd Freakout and The Great Stupid, the baseball writers, which are thoroughly infested with self-righteous and semi-ignorant would-be social justice warriors like this guy, blame Landis for not “doing more” to desegregate baseball before Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey finally did the trick, three years after Landis died. In other words, he’s being punished for not seeing clearly what everyone sees almost 80 years later, and not actively fighting for a cause that neither baseball nor American society may have been ready for.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Paul Mirengoff

“Conservative America is disgusted with the NBA, and therefore is tuning it out. We’re disgusted ….with the embrace of the radical BLM movement by the league and its players….My problem was what was allowed, indeed encouraged, during the games. I will not watch any sports event during which the preaching of politics or ideology occurs. I guess I’m not alone.”

—Conservative lawyer and blogger Paul Mirengoff on the Powerline blog, discussing the huge fall-off in TV ratings for the current NBA play-offs.

Mirengoff is wrong to attribute this reaction only to conservatives, however. I have spoken with many sports fans who would not fit that description who are equally disgusted with the professional sports leagues. All of the leagues made a foolish assumption that by embracing the views of many progressive activists, they would at least hold on to the allegiance of  fans who agreed with those positions. ESPN and many sportswriters have made the same mistake., and it’s a stupid one. If I go out to dinner and the service staff bombard me with their political views during the evening, it doesn’t matter if I agree with what they say: I didn’t come to the restaurant to listen to political diatribes.

If you’re wondering about the ellipses, I left out a reference to the NBA’s addiction to China’s money, leading the league to ignore the despicable human rights record and political oppression in that country. That is a conservative complaint, and a valid one, but I doubt it affects NBA play-off ratings one tick.

I haven’t finished my letter to the Boston Red Sox, but I write it as I completely ignore the baseball play-offs as I will through the World Series. I want to make sure the team realizes that if its ugly promotion of Black Lives Matter could alienate me, it is in big trouble in the community. The players need to understand that as well, but it was up to management to tell employees to do what they were paid for, and not use their celebrity to make incompetent and divisive political statements. Continue reading

Ethics On A Sunday Afternoon, 9/27/2020: Baseball And Rainbow Hearts [Corrected]

1. For the first time since I was 12, I’m glad to see the regular baseball season come to an end.

Not only was the 60-game make-shift schedule played before empty stadiums,  with fake crowd noises and cardboard cut-outs a farce, but it looks like some of the accommodations made to adjust to Life Under Lockdown will stick, cheapening the game forever. The worst is the expanded play-off system, which, like the National Hockey League version, basically makes the regular season irrelevant. Maybe the habitually wrong-headed owners will reject it for future seasons, but I’m not sanguine. The extra-innings gimmick of starting each half-inning with a player on second is an abomination, and only slightly less offensive are the seven inning games in double-headers.

Meanwhile, I haven’t watched or followed a Boston Red Sox game since the team joined the one-day wildcat strike to protest the racist, brutal shooting of Jacob Blake, which was neither racist in motive nor an example of police brutality. I’ll be writing a long letter to the team this week: if it alienated me, it’s not only in trouble, it doesn’t know its fan base. And if I get anything approaching the “you’re just a racist not to believe that black lives matter” response that I got from idiot Boston sportswriter Pete Abraham, I’m burning all my Red Sox memorabilia, and burying the stuff that doesn’t burn.

Meanwhile, the club showed its ethics deficits in other ways. Before today’s merciful finale, the team announced that manager Ron Roenicke would not be returning in 2021, a move that was inevitable but that certainly didn’t have to be made now, before the season was even over. Roenicke did nothing to distinguish himself in the lost 2020 season, but he was a good soldier, doing his best—which appears to be mediocrity personified—to guide a snake-bitten team that began by losing its popular manager, Alex Cora because he’s a cheater, then traded its best player, superstar Mookie Betts, then lost its star pitcher to arm surgery and its second best pitcher to the complications from Wuhan virus. The Boston team began a 60 game season by quickly falling ten games under .500, guaranteeing no post season slot, and several of the veteran players started going through the motions. Roenicke, in short, never had wisp of a chance, and the team would have crashed if he were a combination of Casey Stengel, Earl Weaver, John McGraw and Connie Mack

Boston fans, even those that are not disgusted with the team for slapping huge racist, Marxist, lie-based slogans inside and outside Fenway Park, will not want to be reminded of this season, so Roenicke’s demise was mandatory, but he deserved to be treated with some respect. Not even waiting until the season to dump him was over has a “this guy is so bad we can’t stand having him around another second” stench to it, and he did not deserve that.

Well, there’s always the Yankees... Continue reading