Oh Joy! A Baseball Ethics Story! Alex Cora Finally Speaks Out!

While the players union and Major league Baseball bicker over the terms under which the American Pastime will have a limited season in 2020, the specter of the ugly ethics scandal that closed out the off-season came out to say “Boo!” Alex Cora, fingered in the Commissioner’s report as the mastermind behind the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing scheme, which apparently extended into the play-offs and World Series (which the cheating Astros won), finally talked about the episode, which promises to haunt the Astros, baseball and him for a long time. Cora was suspended for a year and lost his job as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Carlos Beltran, the Astros player who was found to be Cora’s partner in crime, was fired from his new position as manager of the New York Mets, and both the manager and the general manager of the Astros were suspended and fired.

Cora, to my surprise, was cleared in an investigation of the allegations that his Red Sox team in 2018 was also stealing signs. The MLB report faulted a single coach and determined that the sign-stealing was sporadic and relatively minor. I fully expected Cora to be found as the culprit in a second major cheating scandal, and to perhaps be banned from baseball entirely. Well, good: I’m relieved. he’s not the Bad Seed I feared he was.

Back when I was certain Cora was facing the end of his baseball career—and he still might be—I proposed a 12 Step Program for him to regain the trust of fans and his sport. The steps, which are described in detail here, were… Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives, August 21, 2014: “Wishing Ethics: What Should We WANT The Outcome To Be In Ferguson?”

finger-crossed

[This seems to be a propitious time to re-post this essay, from the peak of the Micahel Brown shooting upheaval. I’m going to wrestle my fingers to the ground and avoid making any comments on it now, and leave such reflections to the comments.]

The simple answer to the question in the headline is: we should all want the truth to come out, whatever it is, and be dealt with honestly and justly. I don’t think that result is possible, unfortunately, just as it proved impossible in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy.If the truth could be determined, however…if an experimental, advanced video recorder just happened to capture everything that occurred between Officer Wilson and Mike Brown, including in the squad car; if it captured the incident from all angles, and we could hear and see everything that transpired between them, what would we want that to be, recognizing that the tragedy cannot be undone?

Would we want it to show that Mike Brown was murdered, that he was fleeing for his life when he escaped the car, then turned, fell to his knees ( as at least one witness claims) and was gunned down with his hands in the air? Obviously many Americans, including Brown’s family, the Ferguson protestors, many African-Americans, civil rights activists, police critics, politicians and pundits, have an interest in seeing this be the final verdict of investigators, for a multitude of reasons. The grieving family wants their son to be proven innocent of any fault in his own death. Others, especially those who prematurely declared Officer Wilson  guilty of “executing” Brown, have a strong interest in being proven right, for even though it would not excuse their unfair and irresponsible rush to judgment, such a determination would greatly reduce the intensity of criticism leveled at them.

[Side Note on Ethics Dunce Jay Nixon: That won’t stop the criticism here, however: Whatever the facts prove to be,  Gov. Jay Nixon’s comments are indefensible, and inexcusable. Now the Democrat is denying that they meant what he clearly meant to convey: calling for “justice for Brown’s family” and a “vigorous prosecution” can only mean charging Wilson, and that is what those calling for Wilson to be arrested took his comments to mean. If the Governor didn’t mean that, as he now claims, then he is 1) an ignoramus and 2) beyond incompetent to recklessly comment on an emotion-charged crisis in his state without choosing his words carefully.]

Or should we hope that the facts exonerate Wilson? After all, shouldn’t we want the one living participant in this tragedy to be able to have some semblance of a life without being forever associated with villainy? Certainly his family and friends, as well as member of the Ferguson police force who want their own ranks to be vindicated, and police all over the nation who have had their profession attacked and denigrated in the wake of the shooting, fervently hope that the narrative pushed by the demonstrators is proven wrong.

Others want to see Wilson proven innocent for less admirable reasons. They want to use the incident to condemn police critics, and undermine and discredit civil rights advocates, especially long-time ideological foes like Al Sharpton. They want Eric Holder to look biased, (he looks biased anyway, because he appears to be taking sides) and to make the case—one that a single episode neither supports nor can possible rebut—that police do not have itchy trigger fingers when their weapons are pointed at young black men.

From the standpoint of ethics, which means that the best outcome will be the one that does the most good for society, the choice is complex.  Continue reading

It’s Time To Play The Exciting Game Show, “Pick Your Autopsy!”

From the New York Times today:

George Floyd died not just because of the knee lodged at his neck by a Minneapolis Police officer, but also because of the other officers who helped hold him down, a private autopsy found.

Dr. Allecia M. Wilson of the University of Michigan and Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, were hired by Mr. Floyd’s family to help determine his cause of death. “Not only was the knee on George’s neck a cause of his death, but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back, who not only prevented blood flow into his brain but also air flow into his lungs,” said Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for the family.

Well I guess that settles it, then! And that Hennepin County medical examiner conclusion that the county autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” and that ” that other factors were involved in Mr. Floyd’s death, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease”? Obviously rigged, wrong and based on racism. Or a cover-up. Or something.

Autopsies are not supposed to be advocacy proceedings. For the Floyd family to bring out their own, bought and paid-for autopsy to contradict the official one means that the case is being litigated in the news media and outside of the courtroom, and that is not the “justice” that Floyd’s protesters supposedly seek. Continue reading

Mail-in Voting Ethics

Ann Althouse flagged this tweet by “Dilbert” cartoonist/Trump-whisperer Scott Adams, and as is her wont sometimes (unfortunately), uses it to get tangled up in the logical conundrums she finds amusing. I’m not sufficiently amused: Adams is wrong, but he did put his finger on one of the problems with mail voting that advocates for the process refuse to acknowledge.

There is only one way to complete a vote: the voter does something that directly registers his or her choice without any intervening agency or process. No voting procedure that permits voting with intervening agency or process is sufficiently secure and reliable. Those who advocate such systems are to be viewed with suspicion and presumptions of either bad intent or faulty reasoning.

Both Adams and Althouse seem to be laboring under the misconception that someone who accepts the responsibility of mailing someone’s vote has a choice. Such an individual is, under the law, a gratuitous bailee, meaning that they have accepted an obligation without compensation. That means that if they fail the obligation, the one whose task they defaulted on usually has no legal recourse, but it doesn’t change the ethical situation at all. The gratuitous bailee promised to do something for someone, that individual relied on their promise, and the “friend” engaged in betrayal. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“What? Am I — a seeker of truth — just supposed to add it all up and divide by 2?”

—-Blogger Ann Althouse, stating nicely in her eccentric way what Ethics Alarms has been pointing out repeatedly….

…most recently in this post. Or this one. That being that there are no trustworthy news sources. None. And since there are none, a democracy that depends on an informed electorate has no way for the electorate to become informed. The news media, and journalists, are 100% responsible for this. It is deliberate, and that is why designating then as “enemies of the people,” while impolitic, is fair and informative.

Here is what Ann found that led to her question above:

Heres the list of the top political stories at Real Clear Politics this morning:

  • “Uncovering Obama’s Surveillance of His Political Opponents” Lee Smith, NY Post
  • “Why Trump Is Peddling Extra-Strength Conspiracy Theories” Jack Shafer, Politico
  • “Judge Sullivan’s Bizarre, Politicized Order Is a Travesty”” Andrew McCarthy, NRO
  • “Obamagate Is a Distraction From Bad News About Covid” Oliver Darcy, CNN
  • “Was California Special Election Beginning of Red Wave?”Mollie Hemingway, Federalist
  • “4 Reasons Opening Up Businesses May Backfire–and Soon” Brian Resnick, Vox
  • “Comparing Florida and New York Looks Bad for Cuomo Deroy Murdock, FOX News
  • “10 Protections That Should Be in Next Aid Package” Sen. Warren & Rep. Khanna, CNN
  • “Forget Pelosi’s Boondoggle Bill–Take Taxes to Zero Instead” Steve Cortes, RCP
  • “Trump’s ‘I’m Rubber, You’re Glue’ Campaign Plan” Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic
  • “Trump’s Odds of Winning Are Higher Than You Think” Eric Levitz, New York Magazine
  • “Stephanopoulos Just Wants the Tara Reade Story to Go Away” John Nolte, Breitbart…

And so on.

Ann’s complete list is at the link.

The Ethics Alarms Directory Of “Fake News”: Prelude

The first use of the tag “fake news” on this website was on March 4, 2015. That’s more than three months before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015; the oft-published claim that Trump launched the term “fake news” to deride the news media for criticizing him and his Presidency is, ironically enough, fake news.

The 2015 piece was about CNBC publishing as legitimate news a press release by an anti-vaxx group, a category of fake news called “Hearsay news” in today’s directory to come. I posted three more articles tagged “fake news” before Trump was elected. One of them was the Mother of All Fake News episodes, when the Boston Globe hit the news stands and front walks on April 10, 2016 featuring a satirical front page with headlines about a fictional, dystopian Donald Trump Presidency. “This is Donald Trump’s America. What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP frontrunner can put his ideas into practice, his words into action,” went the introduction. I wrote in part

This is a spectacular  failure of professionalism and a journalistic disgrace. A newspaper is pledged to report the news, not imagine it. It is not ethically entitled to morph into Saturday Night Live or the Onion because it really, really, really feels strongly about an issue….No paper published such a “future news” piece about the world under Nazi rule, or the race war if civil rights laws didn’t change. No respectable publication predicted a similar dystopian future under President Huey Long, or Joe McCarthy, or what a U.S. with open borders would look like, or what a Ron Paul style US with heroin for sale off drug store counters would lead to. That is because this means of political advocacy and commentary is reserved for the features and entertainment sections, not where facts are supposed to be, and where readers must be able to expect a reasonable attempt at truth, not a showboating effort to distort it.

The episode marked, as it turned out, the beginning of an epidemic of metaphorical canaries dying in the poisoned mine of American journalism. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, May 2, 2020: Paid Liars, Paid Corrupters…

Beautiful day!

Outside.

1. Feel the restraints on free expression that inconveniences ideological agendas tightening? I do A couple of friends and commenters confirm that Zscaler, a service many companies use to monitor and block employee traffic on the web, blocks my ethics blog as containing “Pornography, Adult Content, Nudity, Hacking, Illegal, Racism, Hate or Violence, Phishing.”  Nice. So good for my reputation and business too.

2. It’s past time to conclude that no polls are trustworthy, and no one who cites polls as evidence regarding public opinion is trustworthy. All week long I’ve been reading progressive blogs  and sites telling us that the President’s support as measured by the polls is “collapsing.” Then today I see the latest Gallup survey claims that 49% of adults approve of the President’s performance, up from 43% two weeks ago. That would be the highest yet according to Gallup, if you trust any of these things now. I don’t, and you shouldn’t. Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: Everyone Stinks. A Case Study

This is why we can’t have nice things…

…or even be certain what nice things are.

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was Jake Tapper’s guest  on CNN’s “State of the Union,” since he wasn’t going to talk about Tara Reade. Jake asked Pelosi, “Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign told me earlier this month that he supported President Trump’s partial travel restrictions on January 31st blocking foreign nationals from China from coming to the United States. Do you agree that it was the right move by President Trump at the time?”

She answered, “Tens of thousands of people were still allowed in from China. It wasn’t as it is described as this great moment, there were Americans coming back or green card holders coming back. If you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

It’s a despicable, despicable response.

First, let’s go back to the question. Tapper, had he been the fair and objective journalist I once said  he was (I apologize; I was wrong. He’s a hack.) should have noted that Biden’s approval now is a flip-flop. The day after President Trump issued his Chinese travel ban, Biden called him xenophobic. This was important context for Tapper’s question, but Jake doesn’t think his audience cares about context, or something.

Well, let’s go back even further, shall we?

On March 26, President Trump said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, “I had Biden calling me xenophobic. He called me a racist, because of the fact that he felt it was a racist thing to stop people from China coming in.”

PolitiFact, the very partisan and untrustworthy factcheck site that I see has now been taken over by the Poynter Institute but maintains its previous biases, decided to spin for Biden in fact-checking Trump’s statement. Biden called Trump ‘xenophobic” the day after the travel ban was announced. What a coincidence! PolitiFact sees no reason to conclude Trump’s major announcement the previous day had anything to do with Biden’s tweet. Completely unrelated. After all, Biden’s camp pointed out that he’s always called the President xenophobic, which is true.

Now, is that self-evident spin or not? Obviously Biden was having a lucid moment and hedged his bets. He called Trump xenophobic after the China announcement because the Democrats have called every travel ban xenophobic, including bans on people breaking the law to enter our country. The timing of Biden’s tweet wasn’t accidental. But it allowed him to say, wink-wink,nudge-nudge, ‘Oh no! I never called the travel ban xenophobic! I called the President xenophobic, because he is.’

And a supposedly “non-partisan” factcheck operation  accepts that, and tells its gullible readers that they should accept it as well. Continue reading

Easter Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/12/2020: Missing The Easter Bunny

Happy Easter!

That’s my favorite Arthur Sullivan Easter hymn…

Our family always celebrated Easter twice, at least when Greek Easter fell on a different date, which is usually the case.On traditional Easter, until my sister and I were well into high school, my parents hid two dozen colored eggs that we had decorated the day before all over the house for us to hunt for Easter morning. If there had been a pandemic then, my mother would have still hidden the eggs, because she knew even she, with her incredible talent for making BS credible, would not have been able to convince us that the Easter Bunny was “social distancing.”

How my parents loved family celebrations of holidays! I miss them so much, and days like this just makes not having them in our lives harder.

1. Can’t do this. I had been recommending the usually reliable website Ars Technica to my friends for updates on the virus so that they wouldn’t be battered hither and yon like skiffs made of paper on the ocean of hype and disinformation. I also relied on it myself. The site promised daily updates at 3 pm every day, along with a useful set of information, also updated as needed. Then, on April 6, the updates just stopped; no explanation, and nothing since. Unethical. If you promise a service for those in need of it, you can’t just stop it without warning or explanation. It doesn’t matter what the reason is. You have created reliance and  dependency. If you can’t be sure that you will carry through on your commitment, then don’t make it.

I headed a small professional theater for 20 years at great personal sacrifice on that principle.

2. Welcome to my world...Since so many were forthcoming in their reactions to my quarrel with one ex-commenter, here’s another one. Unsolicited, I received a book about two weeks ago from an Ethics Alarms follower. It was by L.Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of Scientology, and the topic was ethics. I was and am grateful, for all ideas about ethics are interesting to me, and most come in handy eventually. A few days ago, I received a long, handwritten letter from the same source, who told me that he was no longer following the blog. He then excoriated my for insulting him by posting, so soon after receiving the book, this post, which in item #3 I  made some uncomplimentary comments about Ron’s “church” (it’s a cult and probably a criminal enterprise), its current leader, and his whacked-out message to the flock about the pandemic, which he called “planetary bullbait.”

My critic thought it was mean and rude of me to respond to his kind gift by deriding his faith and his friend, the Church’s  Chairman of the Board, David Miscavige.

I immediately wrote back in part, Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/22/2020: A Girl Named Nazi, And Other Ethics Puzzles

Good morning!

Believe it or not, that was what kids looked forward to on Saturday mornings.

Amazing.

1. Naming Ethics. I just learned that the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion in 2016 and 2018, is named  Nazi Paikidze.  Apparently in her parents’ native Georgian her euphonious first name means “gentle.”

Oh! Well no problem then!

2. Completely unrelated…no really, completely...In Hobart, Indiana, 23-year-old Kyren Gregory Perry-Jones and 18-year-old Cailyn Marie Smith drove up to two teenage boys who were riding their bikes, and asked if they supported President Donald Trump. The two boys’ bicycles were flying small American flags. After they answered yes, the couple swerved to drive them off the road.  Perry-Jones, according to the boys; account, left his car to rip one of the flags from its bike tossed it on the road, got back into his vehicle and ran over it. He also shouted, “Don’t let me see you downtown.”

The suspects—I wonder who their candidate is? My money’s on Bernie—were apprehended after they posted videos of the incident on Snapchat. One shows Cailyn Marie saying,  “Ya’ll scared, just like your President!…America is not great!” to the teens. I haven’t used tis video in a while, and this seems like a good time..

 

The two have been charged  with felony counts of intimidation and criminal recklessness. Continue reading