Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/18: Churchill, Philly, Trump, Uma, And The FBI

Good Morning, Philadelphia!

Now sober up and clean up the mess…

1 This has little to do with ethics, except that it proves I wasn’t watching the Super Bowl, but…Here’s my report on “The Darkest Hour,” which my family saw last night in an almost empty theater. Apparently most people would rather see young men risk future dementia than celebrate a great man who may have saved civilization.

[ Aside: On that question, this article in the Federalist says in part, “Super Bowl Sunday seems the appropriate day to bring you the cheerful news that football is doomed. The sport is dying and cannot be saved, at least not in America, its traditional home. The cause of death is science. Simply put, football is a sport in which the audience entertains itself by watching men violently turn each other’s brains to mush…What happens if football becomes a game where white middle-class people pay millions to watch poor and minority kids bang up each other’s brains? I don’t think that’s going to be tenable….That means it’s only a matter of time before participation rates drop off precipitously and it no longer seems like the cool thing to do.The science has turned against football, and it can’t last. So enjoy today’s game, while you still can.” ]

You can skip to the next item if you don’t like your ethics polluted by film reviews.

The film is very good; not “Best Picture” great, I think, but very good. It did a better job making clear what was going on and the stakes at Dunkirk than “Dunkirk,” for which I’m grateful; maybe thay should show the two movies as a double feature. The last fade-out shot was “The Natural”-style over-the-top, out of whack with the style of the rest of the film and it left a sour taste, I thought. Artistic integrity would be nice. It reminded me of ET’s spacecraft leaving a rainbow trail

I’ve now seen four Churchill portrayals recently: Albert Finney’s in the 2002 HBO film “The Gathering Storm,” Brian Cox in “Churchill,” Gary Oldman, and John Lithgow in “The Crown.” My ranking: would also be in that order: Finney, Cox, Oldman and Lithgow lagging far behind. I’m a big Lithgow fan, but he looks and sounds so little like Winston (and so much like himself) that he just can’t measure up to the other three..

Finney, Cox and Oldman were all excellent: it’s very close. Oldman has by far the best part of the story to work with (the chronological order is Finney, Oldman, Cox and Lithgow) and the best screenplay, though “The Gathering Storm” is also strong. Oldman’s scene in the “Tube” is the best scene in any of the productions. It probably didn’t happen, but Churchill was known to wander around London talking to Londoners during the Blitz, so it COULD have happened.

All of the top three Winstons had moments when I forgot the actor and really believed I was watching the historical figure, my test in biographical films. This was something Lithgow couldn’t pull off for a second.  (Actors who could in other historical movies: Paul Scofield as Thomas More, Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln.) Finney’s big advantage over Cox and Oldman, I think, is that he is a star as well as a great actor, and Churchill, as a Great Man, needs to radiate that presence and star quality too. Oldman feels small physically (though he’s actually taller than Churchill was, and no shorter than Finney), and his voice is light; there’s nothing he can do about that. I could make a strong argument that Brian Cox, who is one of the most under-rated actors around, was the best Winston, but the film itself was unforgivably careless and ahistorical.

If you haven’t seen Finney’s performance, which won him several awards, you should. It was probably his final great turn, since he’s in his 80s now and hasn’t made a movie since “Skyfall” in 2012.

Finney’s Clementine, Vanessa Redgrave, wins the award for that role, though her daughter, Miranda Richardson, was also fine in the same role with Cox. Apparently every actor who plays King George is great, but “Churchill”‘s King, James Purefoy, was wonderful (he’s another under-rated actor) and in a fair world, would be looking at an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor. The acting in that film is so excellent; it’s a shame its history is so messed up.

2. From the “When Ethics Fail, the Law Must Step In” file: As assumed—Imagine: we take it for granted that idiots will riot and loot after big game victories—Philadelphia punks, thugs and morons went nuts after the Eagles won some football game in Minnesota, causing thousands of dollars damage.  In Amherst, Mass., where the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College live, disappointed students and townies who wanted the Patriots to win that game also went on a rampage.

I’d like to see statutes making post-athletic contest rioting a separate offense, with prison time.  Dim wits who are usually law-abiding citizens have the idea in their heads that the usual rules of civilization are suspended because their city or school wins a championship, and they shut off their ethics alarms. That idea should be directly and harshly rebutted.

3. Thank-you, CJR, for confirming my analysis! The editor of the Columbia Journalism Review penned this, which explains nicely why the mainstream news media is untrustworthy, hopelessly partisan, losing credibility, and failing its duties to a functioning democracy. The Review is supposed to be a standard-setting institution, and we now have a snapshot of what it has become. CJR is failing journalism as badly as journalism is failing us.

In an accurate essay regarding the media’s coverage of the Nunes memo, Derek Hunter writes in part,

CNN and MSNBC had panels exclusively of liberals denouncing the memo without discussing its implications or content. If the government can award itself the power to spy on Americans simply because someone got drunk and talked themselves up in front of others (George Papadopoulos) and someone else made allegations about that person (Page), there is virtually no one in the country who couldn’t be subjected to government spying.  Journalists weren’t interested in that, or anything else associated with the memo. They…couldn’t care less about government abusing its power as long as it does it against people they don’t like. We saw this play out with the IRS scandal during the Obama administration – the media ignored it as long as they could, talked about it for a quick minute, then returned to repeating the lie that Obama’s tenure was “scandal-free.” Were Trump not President, were the Oval Office occupied by any of the other [Republican]  candidates who ran in 2016, the story would be nearly the same. There might not be the personal ferocity or sense of urgency, but the simmering contempt would still be there and it would still dominate the actions of these people. 

They don’t care. Journalism is dead. It didn’t die of natural causes, it was murdered by its practitioners in the name of attacking Republicans, in particular Donald Trump. 

4. Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck update. In an interview by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, Uma Thurman said,

“The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was. I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of ‘Kill Bill,’ a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do…I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have.”

She deserves credit for admitting her complicity, and taking responsibility for it, in sharp contrast to so many others in her industry and elsewhere who are posturing now, but who could have prevented  great harm to others had they chosen to put their own narrow interests aside.

5.  Obligatory Trump Tweet Note. The President’s tweets about how the Nunes memo exonerate him and his campaign and prove that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, and those attacking Democratic attack dog Adam Schiff, are foolish, self-destructive, unpresidential, irresponsible and–where’s my Thesaurus?

6. Inconvenient Facts Dept. As noted here earlier this week, one of the most disingenuous and hypocritical attacks from Democrats and the mainstream media on the Nunes memo is that it is impermissible and dangerous to question the trustworthiness  of the FBI . The New York Times editors have used this line of attack, and then the paper tells us this…

“For more than a year, an F.B.I. inquiry into allegations that Lawrence G. Nassar, a respected sports doctor, had molested three elite teenage gymnasts followed a plodding pace as it moved back and forth among agents in three cities. The accumulating information included instructional videos of the doctor’s unusual treatment methods, showing his ungloved hands working about the private areas of girls lying facedown on tables. But as the inquiry moved with little evident urgency, a cost was being paid. The New York Times has identified at least 40 girls and women who say that Dr. Nassar molested them between July 2015, when he first fell under F.B.I. scrutiny, and September 2016, when he was exposed by an Indianapolis Star investigation. Some are among the youngest of the now-convicted predator’s many accusers — 265, and counting…

The F.B.I. declined to answer detailed questions about the speed and nature of its investigation, or to provide an official who might put the case in context. Instead, it issued a 112-word statement asserting that the sexual exploitation of children “is an especially heinous crime,” and that “the safety and well-being of our youth is a top priority for the F.B.I.””

Ah. So the FBI is beyond reproach when it is pursuing Trump officials using dubious tactics, but when it ignores alleged victims of sexual assault…you know, I don’t think the Left is going to have much fun, not to mention little success, being an FBI booster.

27 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/5/18: Churchill, Philly, Trump, Uma, And The FBI

    • I guess you missed my transition. I’ll add a paragraph break. I wrote:

      The Review is supposed to be a standard-setting institution, and we now have a snapshot of what it has become. CJR is failing journalism as badly as journalism is failing us. In an accurate essay regarding the media’s coverage of the Nunes memo, Derek Hunter writes in part,

      That is, journalism is failing, the CJR editors essay explains why, and here is another commentator on the problem.

      • The space did make it clearer. Thank you. When I went back to actually check the link, I thought it was 2 of the same link due to careless parsing.

  1. 6- “I don’t think the Left is going to have much fun, not to mention little success, being an FBI booster.”

    Another small item they may choose to ignore.

    “The Rest Of The Story” is emerging from the 2016 Oregon Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff.

    “Oregon State Police SWAT troopers at the scene, ordinarily required to wear body cameras, didn’t that day AT THE REQUEST OF THE FBI. The FBI did obtain video from FBI surveillance planes flying above the scene. (bolds/caps mine)

  2. Anyone notice how the media spent all of 2017 demonizing law enforcement, now they are spending all of 2018 thus far defending how trustworthy it is?

    • My head is still spinning from the sudden Democrat realization that the Russians pose a threat of any kind. Obama was pretty clear with Romney that the “80’s are calling and they want their foreign policy back” in a 2012 Presidential debate (referring to Romney’s statement that the Russians were a threat). Now it seems that the Trump Administration is simply a Russian puppet that does the bidding of Putin by doing things like selling arms (along with the Canadians) to the Ukrainians, which somehow helps Putin by…

  3. My God! The Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review appears to be incapable of writing himself out of a wet paper bag. That piece verges on Authentic Frontier Gibberish. What’s he saying? I guess I can’t read.

    • If that piece by that guy doesn’t sound the death knell for journalism for the next who knows how many decades, I don’t know what does.This is what the academy is doing to America. This sort of thought is being mainlined right into the NYT and the WaPo and other supposedly important media outlets. And these are not just cub reporters. They’re running the Columbia School of Journalism and these papers. Run Away!

  4. Can someone explain to me why if Carter Page is such a proven Russian agent and worthy of multiple surveillance warrants, over 4 years, that no charges have been levied against him?

    My understanding is that he is the crux of the investigation into Russian interference due to his contacts with claimed Russian agents. A drunken Papadopolis mouthing off would not be grounds for a FISA warrant alone

    Given that Mueller has indicted Manafort for his activities for not registering as a foreign agent and alleged money laundering, it seems to me that with all the spying done on Page they should have an air tight case against him by now. The only reason I can come up with is that the FBI has no definitive proof against Page. If that is the case, will Page be subject to FISA surveillance forever?

      • Tex, I was hoping someone who has laid claim to the idea that Carter Paige was in fact a Russian agent and therefore deserved special scrutiny would respond. So far no one has weighed in on why he is so critical even though no indictment appears to be forthcoming.

        • Based on the other thread where Chris is banging away on 4 cylinders, it would seem that the ultimate purpose of all this is still the philosophy of “it looks like smoke, so there must be a fire, so we’ll keep plowing through all the steam until we see something we can accuse of being a fire”.

          So Carter Page looks like smoke. So that’s the whole purpose of this exercise.

          • Fly over country see the Page persecution, I mean ‘investigation,’ for what it is: a ploy, an excuse to cheat by the Obama Administration. We KNOW Hillary cheated in the primaries, just as we know Holder cheated with Fast and Furious, as we know the fix was in with the Email server.

            I pray enough of the outraged are content with returning this country to a somewhat stable Republic, and are not so entirely pissed that they want retribution against the cheaters. That path is alt-right, and destroys what is left of our constitutional Republic just as surely as the path progressives have taken the past decade.

            The MSM is not asking the right questions of the right people: those who live in the heartland, who are paying ever closer attention to national events. Normally unpolitical (and nonvoting) common Americans have been awakened this past year, and do not like the spew of hate from the ‘tolerant’ left. These are seeing the mask slip on the MSM, on politicians, on Academia, and on Hollywood. They see Stalin-like purges in their future if they do not ACT to protect themselves now. These numbers are added to those who flipped off the establishment by electing Trump are seeing how the left (and the lefties in the GOP) are acting, and patience is running mighty thin.

  5. From Andrew McCarthy:

    But the 2013 investigation into which Page stumbled was a case of Russian agents trying to recruit him as a source. Far from doing anything criminal, Page appears to have cooperated with the FBI and Justice Department to nail the Russian spies. (See the Justice Department’s complaint in United States v. Buryakov, at pp. 12–13 — Page is “Male-1,” whom the Russian spy Victor Podobnyy refers to as an “idiot,” and whose 2013 interview by the FBI is described in paragraph 34.) Again, we don’t know everything the FBI knows, but based on what we have been told, it appears that in the prior case, Page worked with the United States against Russia; that does not jibe with the allegation in the FISA warrant application that he worked with Russia against the United States.

    Read more at:

    • By the way, the above McCarthy piece is a great explication of a few aspects of FISA warrant procedures. Something all these lefties who are now authorities on FISA warrant law should probably read. Not that they will. They know everything. They’ve got a liberal arts bachelor’s degree. They are able to make themselves experts on anything at will. Military strategy, geo-politics, law. You name it. They’re experts. Many of them even went to the Columbia School of Journalism. If they’re okay with Carter Paige being surveilled, what’s to worry about? And besides, they stayed at a Holiday Inn last night!

  6. Jack, just dropping in on this post before I forget my suggestion for a tag again. Can you start a tag for issues that may lead to trumps reelection? I know it is early but if it happens I would like to be able to go back and review. Your original Trump election tag would do as well. Thanks

  7. Here is an interesting link.

    Did college students give President Trump’s State of the Union address a fair chance?

    Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips talked to students at New York City’s John Jay College, reading them quotes from Trump’s address.

    What the students didn’t know was that the lines were actually taken from some of former President Barack Obama’s addresses.

  8. 3. The CJR article points out that the President intuits a way to make the media react, but doesn’t connect this to what is happening to them.
    This is what it looks like when a bunch of the self-deceived come up against someone who uses the same tactics that all great generals from history used to successfully win wars. It’s known as creating “fog”.
    Since the media as a business needs viewers, they are in the business of getting clicks. The President recognises this as a center if gravity and will continue to exploit it.
    Meanwhile he’s actually doing some good.

  9. Thanks for information on “Churchill”. The inaccuracies might drive me nuts, but Albert Finney is a versatile enough actor to be interesting.

    I very much enjoyed “Darkest Hour”. After awhile, I stopped seeing Gary Oldman. His voice is a little off, but he did an otherwise good job. I agree about the Dunkirk sequences being better than “Dunkirk”.

    Some of the little details were appreciated. King George’s occasional stumble for words, the uncertainty of whether or not negotiating with Hitler would make any difference and FDR’s wish to help being stymied by isolationists.

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