Afternoon Ethics Respite, 2/5/2020: On Accountability, Karma, Never-Trump And Mookie

What a delightful afternoon!

It never fails. After a stretch where I am especially pleased with the quantity and quality of Ethics Alarms content, I lose followers. Occasionally someone has the courtesy to contact me and tell me why they are dropping Ethics Alarms, but usually not. I know I obsess about such things, but it is like being defriended: I deserve the courtesy of a direct contact and an explanation. One well-remembered exit was by a woman who was very active the comments but always regrading formal ethics theory. I know that stuff, I studied it, and it bores me to tears. I also view the academic approach to ethics as substantially responsible for the public’s general disinterest  in ethics generally. When I finally told the ethics enthusiast that this wasn’t the kind of ethics blog she was looking for, she sent me an email that announced her departure.

1. Of course, the big news yesterday…was that the Boston Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two young players and the willingness to take on the ridiculous contract of an aging, injury prone ex-ace, David Price. Boston being Boston, this was a story of much more consequence in the Hub than the State of the Union, the Democrats continuing inability to run  caucuses in Iowa, or the resolution of the impeachment washout. This shows, as I have always known as a born and bred Bostonian, that the city has its priorities straight.

Betts is that rarity, a young, great player who can do everything well, and do it with charm and modesty. He should be the face of the franchise for the next decade, but there’s a problem: Mookie wants to test the free agent market after this season, when he is eligible to do so. The Red Sox have offered him a long term deal in each of the last two seasons, and he recently rejected an offer in excess of 300 million dollars for ten years. On the open market Betts might get 30% more than that, and the Sox are loath to get into a bidding war. Thus, to avoid the fate of the Washington Nationals, who allowed their similarly young superstar Bryce Harper to flee without getting more than a draft choice in return (Mookie is better and nicer that Bryce), the Red Sox swallowed hard and traded him to the Dodgers.

Ethics notes:

  • In the trade, Boston gave up the best African American player in its long prejudice-stained history as well as its single African American starting pitcher. It says something about the team’s progress in this area that nobody has seemed to notice.
  • In trading Betts and Price after firing Alex Cora, the team’s manager implicated in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, the Red Sox just happened to bid farewell to the three most vocal boycotters of President Trump’s invitation to the team to be honored at the White House for the its 2018 World Series victory. Red Sox cohesion was never the same after the grandstanding “Orange Man Bad” explosion that split the squad down the middle. Mookie never seemed quite as nice after that; Cora never seemed as wise, and Price always was a jerk.
  • Betts has told anyone who would listen that he wanted to stay in Boston, that he loves the city and fans, and that the Red Sox were just proving that baseball is a business. That’s disingenuous spin, and clearly so. If you really want to stay with a team, then you accept the paltry wages of more than 30 million dollars a year to do so.

2. Since there seems to be a strong disagreement among the commentariat on this question, I need to poll it:

Continue reading

“Russiagate” Collapse Ethics: Don’t Trust These People Again…Ever.

Debra Heine has compiled a useful list of the worst liars, hate-mongers, ethics corruptors,  and civic disrupters in he past three years of framing the President of the United States as a traitorous usurper who conspired with Russia to steal his high office. I was happy to find that I already distrusted all of those on the list that I had heard of, for this was hardly their only example of unethical instincts and corrupt behavior. Heine, a conservative blogger and pundit, used a rather high standard to make her list; I would have added several more. For example, ex- MSNBC star Keith Olberman, now again doing sports punditry on ESPN, has repeatedly tweeted such messages to the President as “Resign, you traitorous fuck!” and “Read up on the ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado. You’ll be celebrating your next birthday there. Enjoy!” But maybe nobody pays any attention to Keith any more—I hope not—so Debra was wise leaving him off. I definitely miss seeing Richard Painter on the list. He was President Bush’s ethics counsel, and has abused that credential (unethically exploiting credentials to deceive is a theme) to make one  specious impeachment argument after another, from “emoluments” to obstruction of justice to collusion.

Here is her list, which I will periodically comment on, though she has added extesnive documentation on each. It  is important that there be consequences for what all of these public figures, journalists, politicians and others have done to the nation, its institutions and our culture by pushing the Big Lie that the President made a deal with Russia absent any evidence at all. As I see it now, most of these individuals are refusing to acknowledge what they did or make any effort to undo the damage they have done to all of us. Suggestions that they served Putin’s interests by promoting discord and distrust of our institutions more than anything the President has done are quite correct.

A related list, focused only on the news media’s “fake news” regarding the Russia investigation and other efforts to impugn the President, was released yesterday by rebel reporter Sheryl Attkisson. She also ended up with an incomplete list, but a full list of the news media’s deceptions, incompetent errors, false predictions and wildly biased analysis would require days to scroll through. You can read it here.

Now Heine’s list… Continue reading

Post-Election Morning Ethics, Early Edition [UPDATED]

hillary-loses

Initial ethics observations following an amazing night in American history:

1. Give Trump a chance, and take note of those who will not.

He is now in the most difficult job in the nation at the age of 70, with less relevant experience and preparation than any previous occupant of the office. For once, it’s a good thing that he’s an egomaniac and a narcissist, because otherwise he might be perseverating in terror right now. One cannot say that he begins with the most daunting set of problems any POTUS has ever faced, but it’s close. Give him a chance. Nobody becomes President wanting to fail, and not wanting to do a good job for his country and his fellow citizens.  Begin with that, and let’s see what happens.

2. Those who are capable of being fair and objective should salute the shades of Mr. Madison, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams, Mr. Hamilton and their colleagues. The Founders wanted a system that was capable of peaceful political upheaval when the public was dissatisfied and demanded change, and their unique creation was strutting its stuff last night. So much has taken place over the last year—the last eight years, really—that has undermined our democracy that it is refreshing to see its resilience and vitality. As before, I still believe that Trump is a cautionary tale about the danger when people who don’t understand leadership, ethics and government become the majority. On the other hand, it’s their country too, and the “elites” (how I detest that word) forgot that, repeatedly, shamelessly, and in many ways.

Jefferson would have reviled Donald Trump, but he would approve of the uprising.

3. Trump’s victory speech last night was widely reviewed as statesmanlike and gracious, which it was. It was also unusually coherent for him. Still, who can’t give a gracious victory speech? The effusive praise being lavished on this shows how low expectations are.

4. Hillary Clinton’s decision to not to appear in person at her headquarters and concede, also graciously, was a failure of character. On CNN, ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and ex-Obama flack Van Jones got in an argument over this, but for once in his life, Lewandowski  was right. Given the backdrop of Clinton and the media questioning whether Trump would “accept defeat,” the decision by Clinton was just plain wrong: unfair to Trump, unfair to her supporters, hypocritical. Continue reading

The Quest For A Positive Argument For A Donald Trump Presidency Continues: The Pathetic Professor Kesler

Searching

I am not a “Never Trump” advocate. I can conceive of a Presidential race that would force me to vote for Donald Trump, over, say, a Gorn, frightful Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, “Simple Jack” or Darth Vader. None of those, fortunately, are likely to be running in 2016, however, so the issue is moot. I have stated that there is no rational reason to vote for a candidate as undeniably unfit as Trump when the alternative is a candidate as undeniably as unfit as Hillary Clinton. Unlike Trump, Clinton does have positive features in her resume. As a Senator and former Secretary of State, she presumably has a passing comprehension of how the government works, and she comprehends the importance  of  public decorum and civility for a national leader, meaning that she knows that boasting about her penis or doing this…

Trump-Mocks-Disabled-Reporter-CNN-USA-Today

…is not remotely Presidential. Hillary’s positive features are, we all know, buried beneath the avalanche of her dishonesty, venality, incompetence and corruption,  but still, she has something. +1 beats – 1,606…even zero beats – 1,606.

Months ago, I challenged Trump supporters, Trump fans, Trump defenders and even Trump “oh come on, nobody is that bad”-ers to present a single, substantive, positive feature of Donald Trump that could justify voting for him as President. I have searched for and read alleged posts by professional pundits and others; I have listened to (until overcome with depression and nausea) Trump’s uniformly idiotic surrogates, and I have invited submissions. The results? Zilch. Nada. Bupkis.

“Hillary is evil!” is not a positive argument for Trump. Other submissions— “He’ll destroy the Republican Party, those collaborating traitors!”“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!,” “He says what he thinks!,” “I hate political correctness!,” “He’ll stick it to the elites!” and the ever-popular incoherent grunt—are similarly non-responsive. I don’t think it is too much to ask, and the lack of any entry remotely meeting the modest requirements (the best so far is, “At least the news media might do their job with someone like him as President”) makes me more certain by the day that 1) I am correct to reject him and 2) that Gorn may not be so bad.

Clearly I am not the only one engaging in this quest. The Washington Post obviously searched under every rock to come up with an academic who would put his name on an op-ed last week titled “Why ‘Never Trump’ conservatives are wrong about Trump.”

He is Charles R. Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, and the editor of the Claremont Review of Books. My heart soared like a hawk when I saw the column:  Claremont McKenna is an excellent institution, and finally someone who does not communicate in howls, hocks and memes had written down a substantive argument to vote for Donald Trump!

But no.

Here, alas,  are his “substantive” points: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: George Will

Republican no more...

Republican no more…

Principled, thoughtful, erudite, serious and informed conservative pundit George Will has announced that he has officially left the Republican Party, changing his status in Maryland, where he resides, to unaffiliated.  He urged conservatives not to support presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump even if it leads to a Democratic victory in the 2016 presidential election.

“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” Will said during an interview after his a Federalist Society speech in which he said, “This is not my party.”

I have read Will for as long as he has written, and heard him speak twice. This has to be hard for him, but it also is the only decision for someone who cares about and understands language, law, values, leadership, history, U.S. culture and the duties of citizenship. He is modelling integrity, as clearly as Paul Ryan, for example, is not.

This is what integrity looks like. Though Will does not profess to have any hope that the GOP will have the courage or determination to reject Trump at this point, his announcement still increases the pressure on the party to do so.

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Pointer: Fred