Lunchtime Ethics Snack, 1/17/2020: Dirty Money, Dirty Baseball, And “Parasite”

Yum or Yecchh?

1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”

Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.

In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be  severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”

This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: ESPN Baseball Commentator Jessica Mendoza

(Jessica giggles too much too...)

This answers a question I’ve had ever since softball player Jessica Mendoza was added to the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team: how can a nice, all-American girl like Jessica not gag having to work with Alex Rodriguez, one of the most loathsome personalities in baseball history?

Rodriguez, after all,  was caught twice using banned  PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), lied repeatedly throughout his career to the public, the press, and team authorities, was handed one of the longest suspensions ever given to a player, and was caught cheating in various ways whenever he thought he could get away with it. (My personal favorite was when he shouted “Mine!” as he ran from second to third while a pop-up was over the infield, causing the opposing shortstop to let the ball drop because he thought a team mate had called for the ball. ) His odious presence in the ESPN booth is why I  usually refuse to watch games broadcast by the trio of A-Rod, Jessica and play-by-play man Matt  Vasgersian—well, that and the fact that they are terrible, habitually engaging in inane happy-talk that often has nothing to do with what’s happening on the field.

Yesterday Mendoza appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Golic and Wingo” show to discuss the baseball’s sign-stealing scandal that has—so far, because more is coming— led to the firing of three teams’  managers, the dismissal of a successful general manager, and  cast a long shadow on the World Championships of the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Oakland A’s pitcher Mike Fiers made himself a likely permanent pariah in his sport by blowing the whistle to the press on his former team, the 2017 Houston Astros, who engaged in an elaborate sign-stealing scheme via hidden cameras, electronic relays and, uh, trashcan banging for the entire 2017 season and post-season. The consensus, at least in public, around the game is that Fiers did the right thing for the long-term integrity of baseball.

Jessica disagrees. Her basic position is the same as inner city gangs and the Corleone Family: don’t be a snitch. She told Golic, Continue reading

Apologies And Other Fallout From The Baseball Cheating Scandal (Updated, And Updated Again)

Ex-Astros manager Hinch and “dead man walking” Alex Cora, the cheating mastermind.

Since I posted the initial commentary on Major League Baseball’s tough punishment of the Houston Astros for their illegal sign-stealing (there are legal ways to steal signs too), there have been some interesting developments with ethical implications.

The full MLB report  can be read or downloaded here.

  • One promising development is the widespread discussions of organizational culture that have been taking place in the media. When Astros owner Jim Crane announced that he was firing GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, both suspended for a year by the Commissioner of Baseball, he made it clear that the team needed to reform its culture, which had metastasized from  “play to win”  into a “win by any means necessary.”  There were signs of this in Houston long before the sign-stealing was known, when in 2018 the team traded for relief pitcher Robero Osuna while he was suspended for domestic abuse and facing trial—even though the Astros had previously announced a “no-tolerance” policy regarding players and domestic abuse. The team really needed a closer, you see.

The Astros culture, we now can see, was thoroughly compromised by ethics rot, and eliminating one or two managers won’t fix the problem immediately.

  • A prime enabler of that rot was Jeff Luhnow, who traded for Osuna. After he was fired yesterday, he issued this apology:

Continue reading

Breaking: Major League Baseball Clobbers The Houston Astros For Their Sign-Stealing Scheme, And Red Sox Manager Alex Cora Is In The Cross-Hairs

In November, I proposed that the Houston Astros should be punished severely for their sign-stealing during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the first of which resulted in a World Series Championship. Major League Baseball’s investigation is complete, and today the wrath of the Baseball Gods rained down on the team. MLB didn’t take my advice (stripping the team of its titles), but the actions it dis take were surprisingly and appropriately tough.

The Astros, you will recall,  used illegal cameras and video monitors to steal the signs of opposing catchers at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, then signal those signs to their hitters before pitches by banging on trash cans. This occurred throughout the 2017 regular season and postseason, and during the 2018 season as well. Baseball’s Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, fined the team $5 million (the most allowed under the MLB rules)  and took away the team’s top two draft picks in both 2020 and 2021. Hours after the announcement, the Astros fired both Hinch and Luhlow, with owner Jim Crane  saying, “We need to move forward with a clean slate. [We] will not have this happen again on my watch.”

All of this is as it should be. The MLB investigation indicated that Hinch had not been involved in the sign-stealing, but was aware of it and allowed it to continue.

Now the saga moves on to, <sigh>, the Boston Red Sox. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2020: Oh, Great, A Red Sox Ethics Scandal….

Bad Morning.

1. Fire this copy writer: Boll and Branch sheets informed me this morning that their product is “loved by THREE American Presidents.” Well, that settles it: I’m running right out and buying these sheets if Presidents—well, three, anyway, love them. Actually, I’m making the sheets an early target of my new rule to personally boycott any product that insults my intelligence with their ads or packaging.

So much for Chex-Mix.

2. I just realized what climate change hype is like. I’m slow, I guess. I was reading a typical Paul Krugman column about how we are doomed by climate change and only the mean, stupid Republicans refuse to accept it. (The runaway brush fires in Australia, he said, can’t be proven to have come about by climate change, the brilliant economist said, but everybody knows its climate change. All Democrats, anyway.) It then hit me: climate change is like all the reflex explanations for bad things that primitive civilizations, cults and Machiavellian leaders have used to relieve public fears of  random misfortune since the beginning of time. The devil, angry gods, witches, Jews…anything to be able to rationalize events that otherwise have no explanation.  If you sacrifice people to the gods, hang the witches or exterminate the Jews, you’ll feel better—you’re doing something by addressing the cause of all your pain. Of course, these imaginary “causes” aren’t really responsible for what’s happening, but its comforting to “do something.” In the case of climate change, the proxy trouble-makers are capitalism, personal liberty and democracy. Just get rid of them, and everything will be all right again.

I don’t know why it too so long for me to figure this out. I think it’s because I persist in the romantic notion that we all get smarter over time. I certainly don’t. Continue reading

Ethics Catch-Up 11/14/2009: Better Late Than Never

Good morning!

Good Afternoon!

Good Night!

I started this post at about 10 am, and again, and again, and each time another post topic intervened, pushing the daily Warm-Up from the beginning of the day to the end of it…

1. Yet another shield becomes a sword…Add caller ID to the list of useful developments ruined by unscrupulous technology. I was recently tricked by what my phone said was a call by the Social Security Administration, and it included a phone number that I had recently received a legitimate call from, via an agent. This call was a scam. Investigating, I found that there are inexpensive apps available at the Android and Apple app stores with no limitations on who can purchase them that have few if any legal of legitimate purpose. SpoofCard, TraceBust, Fake Call Plus and more  allow a caller to enter any ID they choose, and any number. They also offer menus of background sounds, various voice pitches and other features to facilitate fraud.

When ethics fail, the law must step in, and these apps should be illegal.

2. Mona Lisa Ethics. “Leonardo’s painting is a security hazard, an educational obstacle and not even a satisfying bucket-list item. It’s time the Louvre moved it out of the way” shouted a New York Times sub-headline.” It’s hard to argue with the article’s conclusion….or its author’s contempt.  Here’s a photo of the typical crowd in the Louvre’s room where the Va Vinci painting is exhibited:

The Times observes…

Content in the 20th century to be merely famous, she has become, in this age of mass tourism and digital narcissism, a black hole of anti-art who has turned the museum inside out…Relocated to the Richelieu painting wing, the Mona Lisa reduced the museum’s Flemish collection into wallpaper for a cattle pen, where guards shooed along irritated, sweaty selfie-snappers who’d endured a half-hour line. The overcrowding was so bad, the museum had to shut its doors on several days. “The Louvre is suffocating,” said a statement from the union of the museum’s security staff, who went on strike…[The author] went up with the crowds recently. Things were no better. Now, you must line up in a hideous, T.S.A.-style snake of retractable barriers that ends about 12 feet from the Leonardo — which, for a painting that’s just two and a half feet tall, is too far for looking… visitors…could hardly see the thing, and we were shunted off in less than a minute. …Pathetic new signs [read]: “The Mona Lisa is surrounded by other masterpieces — take a look around the room.”

Morons. These are the fruits of celebrity culture and the spread of the sick addiction to self-celebration. Taking selfies of an art masterpiece only has the objective of proving an idiot was there, for other idiots who are impressed. Meanwhile, those who might really appreciate the painting are  prevented from doing so. Continue reading

The Houston Astros Cheated In Their 2017 Home Games On The Way To The World Championship. MLB Should Strip Them Of That Title.

I’ve thought a lot about this since learning that the Houston Astros, baseball’s best team over the last three seasons and this year’s World Series losing team, has been exposed as cheating by using technology to steal signs during the team’s 2017 Championship season, and perhaps in subsequent seasons as well. Former Astros pitcher  Mike Fiers revealed this week that the Astros deployed a secret center-field camera during home games to help steal signs from opposing catchers, and relaying them to Astros batters. Here is the background to consideration of the ethics question this raises, which is, simply put, “Now what?”

Sign-stealing in baseball is the act of decoding an opponent’s signs, usually the catcher signaling which pitch to throw. Traditional and legal sign-stealing involves a runner on second base decyphering the signs and relaying them to the batter by some kind of physical signal. Using out-of uniform personnel, like employees with binoculars in the stands, or hidden cameras, to steal and relay signs is not legal. It is forbidden, and considered cheating.

Fiers said the Astros had a camera set up in their stadium’s center field with a feed sent to a television monitor in the tunnel next to the Astros’ dugout. Astros players and team employees could watch the live feed and would relay the pitch by banging loudly on a garbage can in the tunnel. Reporters at “The Athletic” confirmed his account. So far, the only part of the scheme that has been proven is the Astros regular season home games in 2017, not the post-season or World Series (although it would be strange if the team suddenly stopped cheating when the games counted most) and not the 2018 or 2019 seasons, though it is a rebuttable presumption that if the Astros were successful doing this in one season, they would continue the practice.

MLB issued a memo clarifying the ban on technological cheating to steal signs in 2019, but no team was under the misconception that using a camera to steal signs wasn’t flagrant cheating long before 2019. Undoubtedly, the Astros will try to use the fact that the MLB guidance came out in 2019, after the team’s 2017 conduct, as a mitigating factor.  It isn’t. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/20/2019: MAGA Cap Day Edition

Good Morning!

No, I’m not going to wear a MAGA cap today, though I am sorely tempted. The Second Niggardly Principle inveighs against it: just because some people are offended by something based on ignorance or bias doesn’t mean its right to intentionally trigger them, much as they may deserve it.

“Make America Great Again” had, and has, many legitimate and defensible interpretations, and it could have been adopted by either party at many times in our history. Democrats put a racist spin on Trump’s slogan in 2016 because that was how they had responded to all criticism of the Barack Obama Presidency for 8 years, and the tactic was effective, if divisive and despicable. The current tactic is to attcahe racism to any supporter of the President who wears the hat, thorough narrative-supporting fake news like the “racist smile” of a Catholic teen at the Lincoln Memorial and the recent Jussie Smullett hoax, which led the news media to accept the fantasy that MAGA hat wearing thugs were roaming Chicago looking for minorities to assault.

The idea that electing someone with the personality, qualifications and character of Donald Trump could possibly make America greater seemed ridiculous to me during the campaign, and still does. That still does not mean that Barack Obama and his administration did not make the nation significantly worse: weaker, less financially stable, more divided, and less committed to democracy, individual initiative, free enterprise, the rule of law, and civil rights. Under President Trump, despite himself, many of those trends have begun to reverse themselves. Good. I would not say that this has made America greater, not with an ongoing effort on the Left to overthrow Trump’s Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, and not with racial, ethnic and gender divisions being deliberately widened by Democrats for perceived political gain.

I also wouldn’t wear a MAGA cap because the “again” rankles me, and always has. The United States is great, which does not mean it is perfect, or that it should not constantly strive to meet the dauntingly high ideals of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Gettysburg Address. Ironically, it is those who seek to demonize the slogan who really don’t think America is great, and who want to deconstruct it. They have to be fought, and rebutted, and exposed. Wearing a cap, however, is not the way to do it.

1. Unfortunately, these MAGA cap hate stories aren’t fake. An employee at Van’s, a clothing store in Kansas demanded that a teenage boy take off his MAGA hat, and when the boy refused—good for him— didn’t, the employee said “Fuck you!” according to the boy’s mother, who witnessed the exchange.

“He did nothing to you,” the mother says she told the employee. “What did you say to my son, to my 14-year-old?”

“I’m sure he’s heard it before,” the employee responded. You know: “everybody does it.” And besides, Democrats say its the right thing to do.

She complained, and Van’s fired the jerk.

The episode in Tennessee was scarier: A  man was arrested over the weekend after pulling a gun on a Sam’s Club customer who was wearing a MAGA cap, WBKO 13 News reported.  Eventually the media and Democratic narrative about what the hat means—it’s like KKK hood, you know— is going to get someone killed. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/17: Amazon Purges Reviews For Hillary, Equifax Must Die, Making Literature More Diverse, And The Red Sox Get Away With It…

GOOD MORNING!

1 “It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?”

This is the response that the widow of writer Roald Dahl to a reporter’s suggestion that Charlie, the hero of Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (aka “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:) should be made black in a future “reworking” of the book. Recently Mrs. Dahl has claimed that Charlie was originally supposed to be black, but that her husband changed the character before the book was published. She blames his agent, who was, she says (none of this is more than hearsay) afraid that the book wouldn’t sell as well in American with a black hero. She blames “American sensibility.”

No, it wouldn’t be wonderful to start changing the races (and inevitably, genders and sexual orientations) in “reworkings” of literary classics. It would be unethical and irresponsible, as well as a defilement of the author’s visions and creations. Whatever the reason was, and we cannot know it regardless of what Mrs. Dahl now claims, Charlie was white in Dahl’s book. If he had wanted his book to be about a black child, or a little girl, or a Muslim transsexual, the author would have made it so. If someone obsessed with tribal identity politics wants to write a new adaptation under their own name so we can jeer and mock him or her, swell. But it isn’t any more “wonderful” to “rework” Dahl’s own story this way than it is to make Bob Cratchit black, or Captain Ahab black, or Bigger Thomas in “Native Son” Asian-American.

Of course, a stage or film adaptation of the book can cast it any way it chooses.

2 The major business ethics story this past week has been that data security breach by credit giant Equifax. An estimated 143 million Americans now face identity theft for the rest of their lives because the company wasn’t competent to be in the business it was in. It’s that simple. The ways in which Equifax blundered into allowing all this data to be hacked are legion, with more revelations almost daily. My personal favorite is that it neglected to install a patch that would have made its files more secure, delaying for months for no good reason.

Business analysts point out that despite this massive demonstration of ineptitude, the company is not likely to suffer more than the cost and inconvenience of a class action lawsuit or five. The companies that pay Equifax weren’t harmed by the breach, just the lives of the credit-seekers who they use Equifax to check. Nobody seems to think that even this massive misconduct will put Equifax out of business.

The company has dumped some executives, and will probably dump some more, reorganize, and padlock that barn door securely now that the horse has fled. TooLate. The company is untrustworthy, and more than that, companies like Equifax that gather personal information about innocent citizens need to be scared sick about what will happen to them if they can’t keep the information from falling into malign hands. Equifax needs to be put out of business. Its leaders and management need to be imprisoned, fined so severely that they are reduced to eating cat food, or blacklisted so their future employment is limited to bait shops and traveling carnivals. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/8/17: Hybrid Topics! CNN, Hillary, DACA And More…

Good morning, all.

1 The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative non-profit public interest group that focuses particularly on voting issues, claims to have data suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in New Hampshire in the 2016 election—about 2,700 votes gave her the state—may have been achieved by fraud. A study showed that more than 6,000 voters in New Hampshire had used the state’s same-day voter registration procedures to register and vote.  The current New Hampshire speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, sought and obtained data about what happened to these 6,000 “new” New Hampshire voters who showed up on Election Day. Most of them are no longer in the Granite State. Only 1,014 have ever obtained New Hampshire driver’s licenses. Of the 5,526 voters who have not, just 3% have registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.  70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID to vote in the 2016 presidential election in New Hampshire and to utilize same-day registration.

All of which suggests that it would be prudent if a group other than a right-wing advocacy organization did an unbiased and objective study.  Since Democrats won several top races last year along thin margins, notably Maggie Hassan defeating Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate race by 1,017 votes, some Republicans are claiming that out-of-state voters illegitimately tilted the election. Of course, for all anyone knows, the same-day voters may have voted Republican. The episode does compel three conclusions:

  • Same day registration is a recipe for chicanery. I am suspicious of any elected official or activist who supports it.
  • The Democratic/ mainstream media cant that there is no voter fraud is incredible on its face, and manifestly dishonest.
  • The nation’s lack of eager, objective investigators without partisan agendas is crippling. I don’t believe what conservative sources and pundits conclude about the New Hampshire vote, and I find the lack of interest the liberal national mainstream news media seems to have in the story— on Google, I see New Hampshire sources and conservative sources like Breitbart, BizPac, Fox and the Washington Times—gives the story more credibility, not less.

2. For those who are still having trouble accepting that the DACA was an illegal measure as executed by President Obama, I highly recommend the article by Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who explains why he regarded it as “a flagrantly legislative act by President Barack Obama.”  So did I, but he’s a legal scholar and I’m just a lawyer. From an ethics perspective, my area of expertise, I’m still disturbed at the attitude of the supporters of this Obama’s end-around the Constitution (and others). which can be summarized as, “Let’s see if we can get away with it, because we like the results.” It translates into “the ends justifies the means,” and epitomizes the drift of the Left toward totalitarian methods and philosophy. Continue reading