[I hate when this happens: I had yesterday’s ethics short (well, shorter) notes almost ready to post, things got complicated, and now it’s the next day. Well, I like that sundown photo, so to hell with it.]
There are not too many speeches that have had a tangible impact on world events, but June 12 is the anniversary of one of them: President Reagan challenging Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” in 1987. Two years later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. Liberals and left-leaning historians disliked Reagan so much that to this day they deny him his well-earned credit for undermining Soviet communism. On the anniversary of his death last week, Twitter was full of ugly, vicious attacks on his achievements and character. Nothing inspires hate more than someone who proves that your fondest beliefs are garbage. Here is what Reagan said to the crowd of West Berliners:
“There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.” He then called upon his Soviet counterpart: “Secretary General Gorbachev, if you seek peace—if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe—if you seek liberalization: come here, to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
All delivered, as usual, with the skills of a professional and experienced actor.
1. Ugh. Why is the principle of moral luck so elusive? A baseball controversy erupted in Chicago last week because ancient and “old school” White Sox manager Tony LaRussa intentionally walked Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner with a runner on second base and a count of one ball and two strikesin order to have relief pitcher Bennett Sousa face Max Muncy instead. Muncy promptly hit a three-run home run to give the Dodgers a 10-5 lead in a game they would eventually win 11-9. A live microphone caught one fan yelling “He’s got two strikes, Tony!” and “Tony, what are you doing?” before Muncy homered. The intentional walk is a baseball strategy that has largely gone into disuse because statistics don’t support it except in very specific situations. The White Sox have been a disappointing team so far this season, and that tactic by LaRussa seemed to catalyze a fan consensus that he is too old, behind the times, and the reason for the team’s performance. (He was booed in Chicago the last two games, and also faced “Fire Tony!” chants.)
So here comes ESPN’s esteemed David Schoenfield to write, “Now, to be fair here, the pounding on La Russa is also a little unfair. If Muncy strikes out, it looks like a good move.”
No, no, NO, you idiot! Whether or not the tactic is a wise one must be determined when it is executed, not after its results are known. La Russa had no control over whether Muncy homered or struck out once he had ordered the intentional base on balls. What a third party, or subsequent events, do cannot change whether a decision was competent or incompetent. That’s just luck. Continue reading →