Good Morning, And Merry Christmas!
(and no, my tree isn’t decorated yet. As usual, there were complications…)
1 “You’re one of THEM, aren’t you?” Curse everyone on all sides of the political spectrum who have, by shear repetition, turned the mere act of saying “Merry Christmas!” into a presumptive partisan greeting. A recent study indicates that about 90% of the public celebrates Christmas, not some amorphous holiday, either in its religious or secular form on and around December 25th. There should be nothing malign about the salutation at all, and yes, the polite and pleasant response to “Merry Christmas!” is “The same to you!” or “Merry Christmas!” Yesterday, I received a silent glare and a scowl from a merchant to whom I gave the happy wish, and he was selling Christmas tree stands!
2. Not AGAIN! This is one of those periods during a year when the same ethics issues hang around like a bad odor, and I am faced with the choice of intentionally avoiding them, even though they continue to make news and to be the topic of conversation online and on TV, or to keep covering them no matter how bored I get. In fact, all of 2017 feels that way. Every day now, I have to face a new swerve of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, and its cultural, ethical, and political implications. (Chris Matthews! Rep. Bobby Scott!). The news media disgraces itself daily in its partisan hatred of the President of the United States. “The resistance” and Democrats (but I repeat myself) continue to unethically push the nation into a constitutional crisis as their remedy for the longest loser’s tantrum in recorded history, and, yang to their yin, President Trump continues to be as unpresidential in his manner, words and actions as I thought he would, but hoped he wouldn’t, feeding the flames of division.
3. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!” Here is an article protesting the movement to “ban” (figuratively, not literally), the seasonal duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for “being insufficiently PC in the sexual assault/harassment realm.” Ethics Alarms called the song “date-rapey” two years ago, so while I don’t exactly want to ban the thing, I am sick of hearing it on Christmas playlists. On Sirius-XM’s “Holly” station, I’d estimate that over 50% of the “Holiday songs” have to do with sex (none have to do with the religious holiday, by design), and I blame “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which on the alternative Christmas channel, “Traditions” —where every song is sung by someone who is dead, with the exception of a few hangers-on like Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, either of whom could drop any second—“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is played every hour, sometimes more than once. Pearl Bailey (dead), Steve and Eydie (dead and dead), Sammy Davis Jr, and Carmen MacRae (both dead), Dean Martin (dead). Writes the blogger,
“But if you actually look at the lyrics, it’s clear that the woman wants to stay, and that her protests are merely for the sake of propriety, and that the whole thing is a flirtatious little game of seduction. In her objections she keeps mentioning what other people will think, not her own feelings. So you might say she’s striking a blow for autonomy and throwing off fusty old custom when she acquiesces at the end.”
Fine. What does that any of that have to do with Christmas? She also extols the song because it was written by musical comedy master Frank Loesser (“Guys and Dolls,” “How To Succeed in Business…”—talk about sexual harassment!), which is like arguing that “You’ve Got To Be Taught” isn’t preachy and nauseating because it was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
4. Just what we need…There is now a website, Rotten Apples, that allows you to enter a TV show or movie and be told whether anyone involved has been accused of sexual misconduct—you know, so you can refuse to watch it ever again, because as we all know, entertainment is only entertaining if the performers are a pure of heart as Joan of Arc. It needs some work: I entered “The Longest Day,” and it responded that the D-Day movie, which has a huge cast, had no offenders or alleged offenders. Just off the top of my head, I know of two: Sean Connery, who was in the film the same year he was cast as James Bond, has said in the past that he approved of beating women to keep them in line, and “Rat Pack” member (And Kennedy in-law) Peter Lawford ran women for President Kennedy.
Then I entered the old Hollywood movie about Custer’s Last Stand, “They Died With Their Boots On.” It was also rated as miscreant-free. The film starred Errol Flynn! Flynn made Roy Moore look chaste. He had a well-documented and infamous two-year affair with 15-year-old Beverly Aadland. Before that, Flynn had already been charged ( and found not guilty) of the statutory rape of two other underage girls in 1942. It’s not like the website doesn’t know about the film: it had a photo of Flynn as Custer with its results.
Quite apart from the ethically dubious theory behind the site’s mission, Rotten Apples is incompetent.
5. “Don’t’ confuse us with facts, our minds are made up.” Part of the endless 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck is the collusion between the mainstream news media and Democrats to convince the public that everything the Trump administration does is a literal catastrophe. This is working: it is a major reason why Trump’s poll numbers are low. One of the more unethical examples is the hysteria over so-called “net neutrality.” I don’t pretend to understand all of the ramifications of the controversy, but I know outrageous disinformation and hype when I see it. The FCC reversed a rule last week, and it was covered with headlines like this…
and cable news graphics like this:
Both are fake news.
How often have you heard the news media, in any of its coverage, mention that the FCC’s action did nothing more radical than return regulation of the internet to the way it was until February of 2015, and how it had been for two decades? That’s accurate: CNN’s claim that the internet as we know it has been ended is pure deceit, and the headlines about “equal internet access” being ended are contradicted by how we all should be able to remember the internet worked for the majority of its existence. The coverage has been fear-mongering and deception, for political purposes, not for the benefit of internet users.
Naturally MSNBC has been pushing the propaganda, and inadvertently demonstrated how cynical and dishonest the coverage of this topic is. Ali Velshi invited former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell to enlighten his audience about net neutrality, which he did, but not the way Velshi hoped.
McDowell began by noting that the regulations that were just repealed to anguished cries of doom were not created until February of 2015. Then he responded to Velshi’s argument that repealing net neutrality might freeze out startups by reminding him that new tech companies like Facebook were created well before 2015, and that consumers were protected by various laws from the supposedly looming horrors being hyped by Velshi and others.
“You have the Federal Trade Commission Act, for instance, you have the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act,” McDowell said. “Those are three very powerful federal statutes that kept the internet open and free prior to February of 2015….What Title II [net neutrality] has done, in the wireless space anyway, is reduce investment in the past two years by 18 percent. We need about $300 billion over the next decade to build out [5G] networks… the 1,000 requirements of Title II have created tremendous uncertainty.”
Velshi countered that Facebook could subsidize faster internet speeds in exchange for preferential treatment, reducing competition in the overall marketplace. Wrong, McDowell explained, saying,
“Section I and Section II of Sherman Act and Section III of Clayton Act…you just triggered all three of those sections That would be an anti-trust violation…that was against the law before February 2015 and it will be against the laws of today.”
At this point Velshi panicked, realizing he was over his head and dealing with someone who had facts to work with, not just partisan fervor.
“Look, I just feel like we’re having a really unfair conversation here, I’m trying to have a conversation on the merits of the principle of unintended consequences, and you’re dropping a lot of legalese,” Velshi whined.
In other words, as Ralph Kramden used to babble when he was caught like a rat in a trap, “Humminahumminahummina…”
“The legalese is the merits though, Ali,” McDowell was unkind enough to point out.. “That’s what’s at play here, and maybe you haven’t read these laws.”
Of course he hasn’t read those laws! Neither have 99% of the people freaking out over the issue. They just react to what propaganda agents masquerading as journalists tell them.
“I’m very familiar with net neutrality!” Velshi replied indignantly. It’s really irritating to have your ignorance exposed by someone who knows what he’s talking about. “I’m really not that familiar with being condescended to.”
Here’s the video of the exchange. If McDowell made the same case on Fox News, it would be brushed off as typical Fox bias.