(I’m starting this post just a few minutes before noon, thank to a WiFi outage. I’m sorry.)
1. I finally saw “Passengers,” which most people and critics seemed to hate. I see no obvious inferiority to the over-praised and honored “The Martian” or “Gravity,” especially the latter, which bored me to tears, but never mind: it’s an ethics movie. It is also a moral luck movie, and that drove me crazy. I’ll bet so many viewers (SPOILER ALERT!) saw the film and came out saying, “She had to forgive him, because if he hadn’t awakened her prematurely to keep him company, everyone would have died!”
No, no, no! His (Chris Pratt’s) conduct toward her (that’s Jennifer Lawrence, and anyone who wrongs Jennifer Lawrence deserves the torments of Hell) was just as bad–and it was horrible—whether it turned out well by chance or not. Subsequent discoveries or unpredictable events cannot make an unethical act retroactively ethical.
2. San Francisco’s Medicaid program sends illegal immigrants this letter:
When the anti-Trump deranged argue that the President is “crazy,” my stock answer is going to be that nothing he has said or done is as “crazy” as the position that it is right and just to officially encourage foreign citizens to breach our borders, defy our sovereignty and break our laws….and the people trying to use the 25th Amendment to execute a coup are exactly the people who think the letter above is compassionate and right. (Believing that a coup is in anyone’s interest is also demonstrably nutsy-cuckoo, but that’s another issue.)
3. I am really going to be disappointed if NPR and PBS don’t get zero-ed out of the budget. I may be stuck with biased and incompetent journalism, but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.
In a segment of NPR’s “All Things Considered” this week (Yes, I generally think the show is excellent, but that’s not the point) about the “restorative justice” approach to campus sexual assault, reporter Tovia Smith quoted Columbia University graduate Emma Sulkowiczs, aka “Mattress Girl,” as a “survivor” of rape.
She’s not a survivor; she was a harasser, and Columbia just paid a financial settlement to her victim for permitting her to proclaim him as a rapist when the evidence didn’t back the claim. Columbia doesn’t believe Sulkowiczs was raped, and her accusation has been thoroughly discredited. Why in the world would NPR choose this cruel and discredited woman to profile while discussing actual campus sexual assault, and how could it be ethical journalism to still refer to her as a rape survivor?
Smith’s tweeted response to criticism was as damning as the choice of “Mattress Girl” itself:
“Sulkowicz considers herself a survivor & we ID her as such. We’ve clarified that their school found the student she accused ‘not responsible.”
Oh! She considers herself a survivor, so that’s sufficient to make it a fact in NPR’s eyes, and thus worthy of being broadcast as such! Is that in public radio’s ethics policy? So why doesn’t NPR designate President Trump as a victim of a partisan witch hunt regarding “Russian collusion”? That’s what he “considers himself,” as he has said many times. NPR doesn’t believe him? Why does NPR believe Sulkowiczs, then, especially since, unlike in the case of Trump, there has been an official determination that she didn’t tell the truth?
If I say I consider myself Phillip of Macedonia, will NPR represent me as such to its audience?
We should not have to pay for agenda-driven “journalism” like this. If people want left-wing propaganda with their latte, let them pay for it.
4. As White Houses have done since time immemorial, this one read a cute letter from a little boy nicknamed “Pickle” in which he said that he wanted to be President Trump’s friend. Whole books have been published with collections of such letters. They are not sinister, suspicious, or newsworthy. Nonetheless, the thought that anyone, even a child, could possibly respect and admire this President was so unpalatable that this simple, unremarkable letter just had to be a fraud, “the resistance” proclaimed.
“At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Thus the the Washington Post and others set out to doxx the child. Oh, it had a rationalization ready:
As Wednesday’s investigation into the veracity of Pickle barged on ahead, weary Trump supporters noted the lunacy — the desperation — of people who would dedicate so much energy to tearing apart a sweet letter from a child. It was lunacy. But it was not lunacy that came out of nowhere. It was lunacy born of the times, incubated in a world of secret Russian meetings, fudged inauguration sizes, and grandiose statements from a commander in chief whose greatest pastime and hobby was self-mythologizing.
Nope. Not even close to a justification. The news media thinks it is appropriate to invade the privacy of a kid for writing a letter, when similar letters to Presidents have been allowed to stand on their own since the days of Lincoln. Wait, how do we know that little girl wrote that he should grow a beard? Didn’t Abe tell a lot of tall tales? (Actually, Abe often lied his head off). This is, once again, “The New York Times Rule”: fair and objective journalism is suspended in the case of Donald Trump.
The Post, by the way, found that the letter was genuine. Then they published the child’s name and the name of his mother, so some crazed Trump-hating Post reader can fire-bomb their house.
Oh, come on, Jack! That would never happen! It’s not like, say, Bernie Sanders supporting snipers are shooting Republicans!) Anyway, if that kid is supporting President Trump, he deserves it!
5. At least all of those misspent hours watching “Criminal Minds” and “Lie to Me” were not in vain.
On Friday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed recently sacked White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus regarding the accusation from communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, that Priebus was a leaker.
Priebus : “That’s ridiculous, Wolf. Come on. Gimme a break, I’m not gonna get into his accusations…”
Blitzer: “Why not? Why not respond to him?”
Priebus: “Because I’m not going to because I’m going to honor the president. I’m gonna honor the president every day, and I’m gonna honor his agenda. And I’m gonna honor our country, and I’m not gonna get into all of this personal stuff, so…”
Uh, Reince? The answer you were looking for is “No. I never leaked.”
Priebus’s “How dare you! This is an outrage!” response is what interrogators recognize as a deflection, a “non-denial denial,” and strong indication that the speaker is hiding something. I assume that in this case Priebus wasn’t “the” leaker but was certainly a leaker, and did not want to have an uncategorical denial on videotape to discredit him later.
There are two explanations for his refusal to answer Wolf’s question. One is that he was a leaker. Leaking from his former position to the detriment of the President is spectacularly disloyal, dishonest and unethical. Unlike fellow (and possibly criminal) leaker James Comey, Priebus probably has some residual guilt about his betrayal. The second explanation is that Priebus isn’t too bright. His evasive answer is like a neon sign saying, “I did it, but I won’t admit it.” If you are going to be proven a liar anyway, you might as well lie now, or better yet, tell the truth and come clean.
Then the answer Priebus was looking for, but didn’t have the courage or integrity to speak, was “Yes. I leaked.”