Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/13/2019: Rhode Island On My Mind Edition

 

Providence, Rhode Island

Good morning!

I’m heading up to Little Rhodey in a few hours to once again collaborate with my brilliant Ethics Rock musician Mike Messer before the Rhode Island Bar, as well as to try to back about 7 hours of legal ethics and technology commentary into a 75 minute break-out session.

1. Once again, law vs ethics.The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld those lame duck laws the GOP legislature passed to hamstring the new Democratic Governor. It is the correct decision. The measures were unethical, but legal, just like Mitch McConnell’s gambit to refuse giving Merrick Garland a hearing, just like Harry Reid’s “reconciliation” maneuver to get the amended Affordable Care Act passed without having to send it  back to the House.

2. Correct, but futile.  From the Washington Post: Continue reading

Amazing Tales Of “The King’s Pass”: The Johnny Manziel Saga

To refresh your memory, from the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list:

11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”

One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head.  In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others.

There was good news on the King’s Pass front, when reports emerged that the Philadelphia Philllies decided to spend their “crazy money” on free agent outfielder Bryce Harper rather than free agent infielder Manny Machado because of Machado’s unsportsmanlike conduct during the recent post-season and his excusing his loafing to first  in a game by saying that he “wasn’t Johnny Hustle.” Since Harper’s ridiculous contract from Philly ended up being 30 million dollars more than Machado’s ridiculous contract with the San Diego Padres,  one could conclude that Machado ‘s conduct, which would get a lesser player benched, demoted, traded for a bag of peanuts or released, at least cost the jerk 30 million dollars.

Good.

But with the King’s Pass, such episodes are rare. Yesterday we learned that alleged football star quarterback—his nickname is “Johnny Football”—Johnny Manzeil was released from the Canadian Football League. The CFL wouldn’t give details, saying only he had “contravened the agreement which made him ineligible to play in the league,” but since it was known that the agreement included weekly therapy appointments, mandatory doctor visits and monthly Lithium tests, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened: Johnny happened. Here’s a summary of Manziel’s “controversies” from Wikipedia:

June 2012 arrest

On June 29, 2012—before he was chosen as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and before his first college game—Manziel was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors—disorderly conduct, failure to produce identification, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license. These charges stemmed from a late-night fight…In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to failure to produce identification, and the other two charges were dismissed.

…After the incident, Manziel eventually regained the favor of his team and head coach…and was named the starting quarterback… When reporters asked about the incident during his first press conference on November 27, Manziel stated that he had learned from the mistake and “had to make a lot of changes in [his] life.”[146][147]

2013 offseason

During the 2013 offseason at Texas A&M, Manziel drew significant media attention over his behavior off the field. Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping, tweeting that he “can’t wait to leave College Station” after receiving a parking ticket, and getting kicked out of a fraternity party…ESPN reported that the NCAA was investigating whether Manziel accepted payments for autographs that he had signed in January 2013. The NCAA did not find any evidence that Manziel accepted money for the autographs, but reached an agreement with Texas A&M to suspend him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University, due to an “inadvertent violation” of NCAA rules.

2015 offseason

On February 4, Manziel entered a treatment program for unspecified reasons. On May 30, Manziel was involved in an incident with a heckler at a   golf tournament. The heckler had been continually asking for an autograph, to the point that Manziel became fed up and threw a water bottle at the man. The water bottle missed the heckler. Security and police were called, but no charges were filed.

2015 season

Manziel was pulled over by a policeman after fighting in his car with his then girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Although no charges were made, Manziel admitted to having had some alcoholic drinks earlier that afternoon…On November 24, a week after Manziel was announced as the NFL C;eveland Browns’ starter for the remainder of the season, head coach Mike Pettine demoted Manziel to third string after a video of him partying surfaced on the Internet….It was later revealed Manziel reportedly lied about the video… Manziel was seen at a Las Vegas casino the night before the Browns played their final game of the 2015 season. Manziel was scratched from the final game because of a concussion. …The next day, Manziel failed to report to the Browns on Sunday morning when he was supposed to report to the team medic, which all players with concussions are supposed to do.

2016

On January 6, 2016, Manziel’s marketing agency, LRMR, announced that it would no longer work with Manziel. Manziel’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, also announced that he would no longer represent Manziel. On February 5, 2016, the Dallas Police Department announced that they were opening a criminal investigation with a claim of domestic violence involving his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley. Dallas police had originally closed the case, but re-opened it with allegations stemming from an altercation on January 30, 2016, at a downtown Dallas hotel. According to Crowley, Manziel forced her into a car, pulled her by the hair, and threatened to kill both her and himself. On April 24, Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on misdemeanor assault charges for the incident.

On April 19, 2016, after just two months of representing him, agent Drew Rosenhaus terminated Manziel as a client, marking the first time in Rosenhaus’ 27-year career he fired an NFL player.On the same day, Nike ended its sponsorship with Manziel.[166]

On June 24, 2016, Manziel’s attorney, Bob Hinton, accidentally sent a lengthy text message to the AP relating to Manziel’s defense in his domestic violence case. In the message, Hinton expressed concerns about Manziel’s ability to stay clean, saying that he was given a receipt that suggests Manziel spent around $1,000 at The Gas Pipe, a drug paraphernalia store. On the same day, Manziel’s father, Paul, told ESPN: “He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.”

On June 30, 2016, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. On December 2, 2016, Manziel and prosecutors finalized a plea agreement in which Manziel agreed to undergo counseling and have his conduct monitored by prosecutors for up to a year or face prosecution.

Apparently Wikipedia got tired of updating Johnny’s page. Now kicked out of the NFL and the CFL, a new pro league is thinking about signing Johnny Football, and here is how USA Today reported it, in part: here is how USA Today reported it, in part:

It’s no surprise Johnny Manziel’s sudden availability was cause for great celebration around the AAF (Alliance of American Football). Johnny Football would be the ultimate addition for the upstart league….Before anybody whips out a contract and a pen, however, be warned: You don’t know who you’re getting. Will it be Johnny Manziel, who last summer spoke earnestly of prioritizing his mental health and the costly lessons he’d learned from when he didn’t? Or will it be Johnny Football, whose boozed-up escapades and immaturity sent him crashing out of the NFL two years after he was a first-round pick?

Gee, I think it will be Johnny Manziel, certified asshole, who has been behaving the same way since college, but teams keep signing him and giving him money, sending the rest of the team, football, kids and the world that if you have talent, you can get away with almost anything, or at least get an endless number of “second chances.”

The other news? Manziel’s wife was accused of cheating in a half-marathon, and lying about her time.

Come on, AAF, sign him up! What are you waiting for?

You Have Two Weeks To Be Ethical And Decide Not To Watch The Super Bowl

Let me say something good about the New York Times: not all of it’s editorials are repetitious attacks on President Trump, just most of them. Last week editorial board member Alex Kinsbury persuaded his colleague to let him used the space for an opinion both ethical and irrefutable. A quick summary: Football is maiming its players, the NFL doesn’t care, and if you watch the Super Bowl and support its sponsors, you’re complicit.

But them you knew that, right? At least you know it if you’re been coming here for any length of time.

Recalling a hard hit on Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, Kinsbury writes, “As the sound of the hit faded into a commercial break, I realized with absolute certainty that I couldn’t watch football anymore. There aren’t enough yards to gain or Super Bowl rings to win that are worth the cost.”

True. What took you so long? He continues by reviewing the well-publicized data:

The first research into the link between football and traumatic brain injury was published in 2005. Since then, the science has become impossible to ignore. In 2017, The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of the autopsies of the brains of 111 deceased former N.F.L. players, whose relatives gave their bodies up for study. The group was not a random sample, yet 110 showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions. Research published in November estimated that a minimum of 10 percent of all professional football players would develop C.T.E. at some point in their lives.

10% is wishful thinking, even for the  players who can still think. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/2/2019: A Drunken City Council President, A Head-Exploding Political Charity, NBC’s Strange Welcome To The New Year, And Facebook Calls Reality “Hate Speech”

Good Morning!

1. First candidate for “Incompetent Elected Official Of 2019”! The Troy New York City Council president got drunk and then went behind the wheel to chased another motorist at high speeds for nearly 30 miles last week . State police arrested Carmella R. Mantello, 53, after troopers received a call from a terrified driver who told dispatchers that some crazy person was tailgating him and driving erratically. When troopers  pulled Mantello over, she denied following the man and claimed he was following her—interesting, since  troopers stopped her when she was behind the complaining motorist. She also refused to take a breathalizer test.

Later, Mantello  issued this statement:

“I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility. I apologize to my family, friends and constituents and am deeply sorry that I let you down,” she said. “I expect more from myself. Finally, I would like to personally thank the New York State Troopers for their professionalism in this matter and the service they render every day to keep our communities safe.”

The best way for her to honor professionalism and keep communities safe is to resign immediately.

Oh—I assumed that Mantello was a Democrat, since the news story didn’t mention her party affiliation. Nope! She’s a Republican.

2. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!—get a load of THIS! Also, KABOOM! My head just exploded. Some ethics stories don’t need any analysis; they are res ipsa loquitur. I generally don’t devote pots stories when the despicable conduct is so obvious, but this one needs to be widely disseminated. From the New York Post: Continue reading

If You Want To Understand Why The Public Is So Easily Confused And Deceived, Follow Sports

Our education system simply does not train our young in critical thinking, and hasn’t for a long, long time. Then, as adults, we listen and watch supposed professionals who make their living informing us, enlightening us and communicating to us, and the level of reasoning they model is uniformly incompetent.

Nowhere is this more evident than in sports reporting. If you don’t follow sports, you don’t know what stupidity is being pumped into unsuspecting brains on a regular basis.

Here is an example: I was just listening to the MLB  radio channel’s “Loud Outs,” where the host, broadcaster and former player Ryan Spilborghs, was discussing the new baseball fad of beginning a game with relief pitcher who only throws an inning or two, and then bringing in the starter. There are theories that against certain line-ups this can create an advantage, but never mind: it’s irrelevant to the issue. Spilborghs, who really did attend college, says, “You know what convinced me? These stats…” and he began to read the won-lost records of various teams when they score first. “Overall, the average for all of Major League Baseball is that the team that scores first wins 70% of the time! Why wouldn’t you use this strategy if it meant that it increased your team’s chances of scoring first?” His partner, former player CJ Nitkowski, said, “You’re right!”

No, CJ, he’s an idiot, and so are you.

There is no magic to when a baseball team scores its runs. A run in the first inning is no more or less a run than a run in the 7th. The reason a team that scores first wins most of the time is, or would be, obvious if our schools weren’t crap, that in any baseball game, if one team begins with a one run handicap, it will lose most of the time. The team that scores first is like a team that begins the game with a one run advantage. Now, one run is a big advantage, but many of the teams in that 70% scored more than one run first. They really have an advantage: those teams probably win 85% of the time.  Then there is this factor that pollutes that stat that Spilborghs found so amazing: the teams that score first the most frequently are also the better of the two teams. They figured to win before they had a one, two or three run advantage.

The team that scores the most runs wins 100% of the time. Prioritizing scoring first with the result that your pitching is more likely to give up runs later in the game does not convey any advantage at all. If the “opener” pitching strategy results in opposition teams scoring fewer runs, then it has value. Preventing the other team from scoring first, by itself, is meaningless. ( How often does the team that scores last win the game? How about the team that scores the most runs in the fifth inning? Can you guess? Sure you can. But don’t tell Ryan. You’ll break his heart. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/24/18: Presidents, PETA, Privilege, Penn State And Pedophiles

Good Morning.

It just feels like a gliddy glup gloopy nibby nabby noopy kind of day…

1. Musings on the illness of George H.W. Bush. Perhaps I am over-sensitive, but I found the long segments and speculation on cable news this morning about George H.W. Bush suffering from “broken heart syndrome” sensational, intrusive, and wrong. The man is 93, and he’s suffering from a blood infection. As my Dad said often after his 80th birthday, and eventually proved, when one is 80 or more. you can drop dead at any moment, for any reason. Yes, we all know of long-time married couples of advanced years who perish in close proximity. However, the “broken heart syndrome” is anecdotal, without clinical proof, and, essentially, fake news with a romantic tinge.

[Pointer: valkygirrl]

If vile people like Professor Jarrar will attack Barbara Bush when she dies, imagine what George H.W. Bush has in store. The elder Bush is near the bottom of my Presidential ranking, in the general vicinity of his son, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama but The Ethics Alarms position is that every single President of the United States is owed respect and a debt of gratitude for accepting the overwhelming challenges of the job, and doing, in every case, what he felt was in the best interests of the nation. Before Harry Truman, even taking away the assassinations from the mix, the Presidency was regarded, accurately, as a killing job, with more Presidents than not dying soon after leaving office. That’s not true any  more, but the job is still a terrible physical, emotional and mental burden. The first words out of any American’s mouth when a former President is ailing should be “You have the best wishes of the nation,” and the first words when any former President dies should be “Thank you.”

2.    And this has to do with “collusion” how?  The raid on President Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen revealed that Fox News host Sean Hannity owns millions of dollars worth of real estate across several states, with  links to several shell companies that bought $90 million on 877 residential properties. This is all confidential information, and should never have been jeopardized by the Special Counsel’s effort, coordinated with New York State prosecutors, to gather as much dirt on President Trump as possible—all the better to impeach him with. That this information was leaked to the press indicts the investigation, the process, the judge who allowed the  fruits of the raid unrelated to Trump to be obtained, and the lawyers involved. Of course, the fact that Cohen had these records also rebuts Hannity’s claim, obviously disingenuous from the start, that he wasn’t Cohen’s client, but never mind: Hannity should not have been placed in the position where there was anything to deny.

[Pointer: philk57] Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity”

John Billingsley elaborates on the import and implications of the troubling research results regarding the brain disease CTE and participants in contact sports, especially football.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz, Super Bowl Edition: Justin Timberlake’s Integrity:

I agree that with 99% of NFL players and 91% of college players showing CTE on autopsy there is no ethical justification for American football and we don’t need it. Do we actually need any contact sports? CTE has been demonstrated in participants in multiple other contact sports including basketball, boxing, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, wrestling, and baseball. Unfortunately, there is not as much information available about the rates of CTE in those sports. There was an autopsy study demonstrating CTE in the brains of 21 of 66 individuals who participated in different contact sports at various levels, but no CTE in the brains of 198 controls who had no history of participating in contact sports. A study looking at high school athletes who participated in various contact sports from 2005 to 2014 found that there were about 300,000 concussions annually. That study found that the sport with the highest rate of concussions adjusted for the rate of participation was girl’s soccer. A concussion does not mean CTE will develop but repeated head injury is the etiology of CTE. Continue reading