Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young

To be fair, we may have reached the point where the office of the Mayor of Baltimore is by definition filled by an incompetent official. The last one, you’ll recall, is headed to prison. Ah for those happy days when William Donald Schaefer was mayor, and acting silly while everyone knew he was competent and trustworthy! That seems like a long time ago.

Here is part of what current Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said today:

“I want to reiterate how completely unacceptable the level of violence is that we have seen recently. We will not stand for mass shootings and an increase in crime. For those of you who want to continue to shoot and kill people of this city, we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re going to come after you and we’re going to get you….we cannot clog up our hospitals and their beds with people that are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those beds for people infected with the coronavirus. And it could be your mother, your grandmother or one of your relatives. So take that into consideration.”

Consider… Continue reading

Rationalization #58: The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”



I am embarrassed to admit that I missed this one, which is common and sinister. When I get around to re-numbering the list, it will be grouped with #13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause,” and #14. Self-validating Virtue.

The rationalization eluded me because it seems like it could often be a fair statement of fact rather than a rationalization, a lie or logical fallacy that is used to justify conduct but does not. “It’s the right thing to do” is routinely used to end a debate, however, when it is only a proposition that must be supported with facts and ethical reasoning. Simply saying “I did it/support it/ believe in it because it’s the right thing to do” aims at ending opposition by asserting virtue and wisdom that may not exist.  The question that has to be answered is why “it’s the right thing to do,” and “Because it’s just right, that’s all,” “Everybody knows it’s right,” “My parents taught me so,” “That’s what God tells us in the Bible,” and many other non-answers do not justify the assertion.

Maybe it’s the right thing, and maybe not. Just saying it conduct is right without doing the hard work of ethical analysis is bluffing and deflection. “It’s the right thing to do” you say?

Prove it.

Ethics Dunce: Ex-Washington Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman

Jim Riggleman is a major league baseball manager of modest accomplishments, one of the forty or so men in the rotating pool that teams will use to fill manager vacancies with low-risk options rather than try someone promising but with little experience. He had a one-year contract with the hapless Washington Nationals that included a team option for a second, which the manager felt the team should pick up now, rather than at the end of the season.

Riggleman believed that he had some leverage. The Nationals have been surging since star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has returned from an injury, and are, for the first time in the team’s  short time in Washington (they were once the Montreal Expos), flirting with a winning record more than half-way through the schedule. But as is often the case with players when a club option is involved, the Nationals saw no reason to make a decision on Riggleman’s contract until the season was over. A lot can happen in three months. General manager Mike Rizzo told Riggleman he would just have to wait. That’s what a team option is, after all. The team’s option. Continue reading

What America Has Learned From Sarah Palin

Thanks for the enlightenment, Sarah!

When Ethics Alarms last left Sarah Palin, she had delivered a description of Paul Revere’s famous ride on the evening of the 18th of April in 1775 that would have earned her an F in speech class and, at best, an Incomplete in American History.  Incredibly, however, Palin and her indomitable supporters have tried to turn the tables on her critics, aided by several history pedants, by claiming that her collage of words and thoughts was really a sophisticated account of Paul’s evening that her historically ignorant critics failed to appreciate.

Uh huh. Let’s revisit her statement, shall we? She said:

“[Revere] warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure as he was riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

This was, by any standard, an eccentric representation of Paul Revere’s ride, and a spectacularly inarticulate one. In assessing whether Palin’s statement can, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to indicate that she either said what she meant to say or has the vaguest idea of what Revere’s ride was all about, we answer these questions: Continue reading

Darek Jeter, Rob Neyer, and Baseball’s Traditional Deceptions

ESPN blogger Rob Neyer has once again called for baseball to punish “cheaters” which he defines as, among other things, “lying to an umpire” and faking an injury, though there are no rules against either. His impetus was an incident in last night’s Rays-Yankee showdown, in which Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter convinced the home plate umpire that he had been hit by a pitch, when replays showed that the ball actually hit his bat. The subterfuge led to two runs for the Yankees and the ejection of Rays manager Joe Maddon, who argued the call to no avail.  Jeter later admitted that he had fooled the umpire, and seemed to be rather pleased with himself.

This has Neyer rather confused. He writes that Jeter ought to be punished for his dishonesty, because ” it wasn’t fair that Jeter was awarded first base. It wasn’t fair to pitcher Chad Qualls, or to Qualls’ teammates or his manager or to the thousands of Rays fans watching and listening to the evening’s dramatic events.” Yet then Neyer immediately points out that Jeter did “nothing wrong.” So Jeter should be punished because he did nothing wrong? If what Jeter did is in fact dishonest and unfair, of course it is wrong.

But it’s not, any more than bluffing in poker is unfair and dishonest. Continue reading