Ethics Observations On Barack Obama’s $596,000 Speaking Fee

A report from El Tiempo, a Colombian news outlet, states that former President Barack Obama will recieve “2 mil millones de pesos” for delivering a speech engaging in an  on-stage discussion about leadership strategies at the EXMA Conference in Bogota. Obama’s fee is the equivalent of $594,000 in U.S. dollars

The Colombian news website Publicmetro.co, further reports that conference attendees who want to attend the event and take a photo with Obama will pay 11 million Colombian pesos, or about $3,267.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

“Avengers: End Game” Ethics

I should begin by noting that there is no way I’m going to see this movie, unless I’m in the hospital, it’s on TV and my best alternatives are “Ellen” and Don Lemon.  I’m sick of CGI movies, sick of super-hero movies, and  have never been enamored of the genre since Christopher Reeve took Margot Kidder flying. As for this particular super-hero movie, the fact that it is 3-hours  is a minor problem, overwhelmed by the fact that I would have to watch the previous long Avengers movie, “Infinity War” to have a prayer of knowing what the hell’s going on.

However, many fans of such films are annoyed by the fact that “End Game” is so long yet has no intermission. They should be. One should be able to see the entertainment one has paid for without having to miss a chunk because nature calls. Movies don’t have intermissions any more, but that doesn’t mean there’s a good reason for them not to. Continue reading

The Ozzie Albies Exension, Or “How DARE A Baseball Player Consider Anything Important Other Than Money?”

The Atlanta Braves announced a contract extension with second baseman Ozzie Albies guaranteeing the 22-year-old third year players a total of $35 million  from 2019 tp 2025. He’ll earn $1million apiece in 2019 and 2020, $3 million in 2021, $5MM in 2022, and $7MM annually from 2023 through 2025. The contract includes two  club options reportedly valued at $7million each; the first one comes with a $4 million buyout. If both are exercised, Albies will earn  $45 million over the next nine seasons .

Executives, players, stat-heads and scouts are all  condemning the Albies extension, alternately calling it a terrible deal for Albies, unethical exploitation by the team, and selfish betrayal by the player.

Here’s NBC Sports…

Front offices deciding, seemingly simultaneously, to stop spending on free agents in their 30’s stagnated the market. Then, because of the stagnated market they created, the owners get to collectively save billions of dollars in the coming years by nudging their young players into signing extensions well before their primes, before they have established leverage with which to negotiate. Free agency is then further stagnated because these players will be reaching it at 29 and 30, rather than 26. …In these young stars and potential stars signing away their arbitration-eligible seasons, they will fail to help set higher and higher bars at each step of the arbitration process.

Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend Lenny Dykstra!

It pains me to have to write this; after all, the 1986 World Series, best remembered for the  potential Series-winning game the Red Sox choked away for good when the ball rolled under Bill Buckner’s legs (it wasn’t Bill fault, but never mind), is one of the traumas of my life. That was a thoroughly dislikable (but great) Mets team that won in 1986, and centerfielder Lenny Dykstra was the worst of them.  Still, the perfidy, venality and cruelty of another member of that team requires me to take Lenny’s side.

Dykstra was an obnoxious player and has been in constant trouble since his retirement. In a new book released this week, “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,”  Dykstra’s team mate, turned broadcaster Ron Darling  (he’s on the left above, Lenny’s on the right) claims that Dykstra used racial epithets to unsettle Boston Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd, an African American, before Game #3 of the 1986 World Series. Darling has now  repeated the accusation on three radio shows this week, as he wrote that Dykstra was “shouting every imaginable and unimaginable insult and expletive in his [Boyd’s] direction — foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff” when he was in the on-deck circle before leading off the game. Continue reading

On Greed, Stupidity, And Reality: My Baseball Wish

There is now rampant speculation that the twin prime-age free agents who have the so-called Hot Stove League in palpitations—the two are outfielder Bryce Harper (L) and shortstop Manny Machado (R), both 26, burgeoning superstars, and, in the estimation of many including me, assholes—will not sign contracts until February. I find this difficult to believe, since it would be jaw-droppingly stupid (and unethical), but I hope hope hope that it happens, because the ethics lessons the consequences might teach couldl be momentous.

Both young men are reportedly seeking contracts in the range of ten years at 30+ million dollars a year. Both have player agents who are telling them such exorbitant goals are reasonable.  Machado has already made about 34 million dollars in his still-brief Major League career.  Harper had made almost 48 million. Both are in a position in which they could pick out the city and team they want to live in and play with, and say to their agents, “This is where I want to be. Make the best deal you can, and make it happen.” That is what a rational person would do, and indeed, that is what some players, not players with the potential earning power of these two but ones with more brains than Harper and Machado have between them, have done, though rarely.

It is important to note that unless these guys have developed an addiction to eating diamonds or something similarly extravagant, they don’t need to work another day in their lives now. What is their motivation to be paid more than a third of a billion dollars over the next decade, other than having avaricious, unethical agents steering them in that direction? Ego? Insanity? Stupidity? Harper or Machado could call up any one of the 30 MLB teams, ask, “What can you pay me for the next five years?” and have a contract for at least $100,000,000 dollars within 25 hours. How much different will their lives be with those “low-ball” contracts than if they received the longer, richer ones they covet? Not different at all, and quite possibly better. Continue reading

Ethics Reflections, Post Christmas, 12/26/2018: Quotes, Dummies, Movies And Scams

Still Merry Christmas.

1. Quotation ethics. The church next door has a message out front this week that says, “The time is right to always do the right thing”—Martin Luther King.

That’s not the quote. Misquotes get into the public lexicon that way; it’s unethical to go around posting sloppy versions of quotes on message boards. Stated like that, the quote is a tautology: if you always do the right thing, of course the time is right to do what you do anyway. Not that King’s actual quote is one of his best. The actual quote—“The time is always right to  do the right thing” is pretty fatuous, and incorporates  Rationalization #60. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do” by assuming that what is the right thing to do is intrinsically obvious. Sometimes the right thing is to wait. Sometimes the right thing is yo be sure what you think is the right thing really is. King was dangerously arming ideologues and the self-righteous who think they are the ultimate arbiters of what is “right.”

Davey Crockett’s quote is better: “Be sure you are right, and then go ahead.”

2. Is it political correctness to point out that Jeff Dunham’s act is racist? After being told by my wife that I couldn’t watch any more holiday movies or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, my channel surfing today took me to Comedy Central and Christmas-themed performance by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. Dunham’s low-brow act makes Charlie McCarthy seem like Oscar Wilde, and I cannot watch him and his howling audiences without thinking about this scene in “Blazing Saddles”…

He began his set with “Walter,” his bitter old curmudgeon dummy, whose face is perpetually scowling and whose arms are crossed in disgust with the world. To my amazement, Walter launched into an extended section ridiculing black speech, black slang, hip-hop, Kwanza and the Black Entertainment Network, and the huge, apparently all-white mid-West audience roared with laughter. How ugly and disturbing. These were jokes of denigration, about people who weren’t there. This was never anything but hate-mongering humor, not in 1948, 1958, 1968, or now. It’s an audience laughing at other people for simply being different than they are.

I kn ow, I know: how is this different from what Stephen Colbert, or Bill Maher, or Samantha Bee does in every performance? It isn’t different, really: it’s just that treating white people who aren’t “woke” as the “other” is considered acceptable, while doing this to minorities, gays or women is considered bigotry, hateful, and cowardly.

3. It annoys me that I should even have to say this, but calling “Die Hard” a Christmas movie is nothing but a cynical way to diminish Christmas and the spirit of kindness and love that the holidays are supposed to foster in order to promote future holiday marathons of a violent action movie. Celebrating the film’s 30 Anniversary, some Grinch at 20th Century Fox decided that it would be cute to promote Bruce Willis’s break-out film as “The Greatest Christmas Story” ever told, according to 20th Century Fox. Right: the movie ends with a strained family brought back together, takes place during a Christmas party, and Bruce’s wife is named “Holly.” It also involves the killing of  more than twenty people, including police,l FBI agents, and innocent victims in addition to the bad guys the hero smokes.

And I like “Die Hard.” I even like two of its four vastly inferior sequels. Continue reading

Mississippi Stinking

Gee, I wonder why feminists aren’t cheering the Cindy Hyde-Smith victory in the Senate run-off in Mississippi yesterday.  After all, she is the first female U.S. Senator in the state. And she’s a woman, and weren’t we told in the 2016 election that this alone mandated voting for a candidate, and nothing else should matter?  Admittedly, Hyde-Smith was an especially stinky candidate—inept, unqualified, addicted to sticking her foot in her mouth—but then so was Hillary Clinton. Why does being a woman outweigh all that baggage when the candidate is a Democrat but not when she’s a Republican? Or is the theory that electing a black Senator cancels out the “vote for any woman over any man”  rule?

I need this written down, I guess.

Of course, the losing Democratic candidate, Mike Espy, was pretty stinky himself, corrupt and dishonest, as well as addicted to race-baiting when the opportunity arose. He was required to quit Bill Clinton’s Cabinet after multiple accusations of corrupt dealings and illegal gift-accepting, then accepted a $750,000 consulting deal from former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo’s government in 2011. Espy’s former client is now standing trial for “crimes against humanity.” After Espy came under scrutiny for lobbying for Gbagbo, he claimed he had dropped the  contract once he learned that Gbagbo was a “bad guy.”  Continue reading