Good Morning, United!
Where’s that whimpering sound coming from?
1 Don’t make America stupid, ABC. The new ABC legal drama “For The People” premiered last night, and lost me forever. I can’t trust the writers. In the final moments of the episode, a veteran female defense lawyer was consoling a young lawyer who was upset after losing a case. The older lawyer evoked the memory of a 1951 rookie for the New York Giants, who went hitless in his first Major League games and was devastated. But his manager put him in the line-up again, and he hit a home run in his first at bat, and never stopped hitting.
“Ah,” said the young lawyer, “Willie Mays. The greatest player who ever lived.” The older lawyer nodded sagely.
By no measure was Willie Mays the greatest baseball player. Is this racial politics by series creator Shonda Rhimes? I assume so: there is no other plausible explanation. The odds of two randomly selected baseball fans asserting that Mays was the greatest baseball player would only be more than miniscule if anyone who knows baseball believed that. Willie was the greatest centerfielder of all time, the greatest African-American player of all time, quite possibly the most charismatic and entertaining player to watch of all time, and very possibly the second most gifted baseball player of all time. But he wasn’t the greatest. The best player by every measure, statistical, modern analytics, WAR, JAWS, OPS, contemporary reports and common sense was, of course, Babe Ruth. He was the greatest hitter who ever lived, a great pitcher before that, and no athlete in any sport ever dominated it like Babe did in the Twenties.
Now, any individual can hold an eccentric opinion that Willie was better. But that was not how the assertion was presented. It was presented as an accepted fact that two random baseball fans agreed upon. This is irresponsible misrepresentation. I was trying to think of an equivalent: I think it’s like a TV show having someone quote the Declaration of Independence, and a listener then say, “Thomas Jefferson. Our greatest President!” as the other individual nods sagely.
2. Four Regans, or, if you prefer, Linda Blair Heads.This is the new Ethics Alarms graphic for unethical media spin. The number of Regans can range from one to four, with four Regans signifying “spinning so furiously her head might fall off.” (If you don’t get the reference, you are seriously deficient in cultural literacy.) The four Regans go to the polar news media spinning yesterday’s special election in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have narrowly won a seat in a Republican stronghold, though the race is still too close to call.
On CNN, the reporting was openly gleeful. This race proves, we were told, that the “blue wave” that will restore the House to Democrats (and , though this was not mentioned explicitly, allow it to impeach Donald Trump) is coming! The mainstream news media so wishes this “blue wave ” to happen that everything is spun to show that it will happen. As with the freak Alabama special election that put a Democrat in the Senate from a conservative stronghold, the 18 District result is the product of sui generis conditions:
- The Republican who vacated the seat, thus mandating the election, did so after being exposed as a despicable hypocrite, pressuring his mistress to have an abortion while posing as an anti-abortion activist. Yechh. No wonder the GOP’s name is mud there.
- Lamb is younger, more energetic, and more attractive that his opponent, Rep. Rick Saccone, who looks and sounds like a tired, standard issue pol.
- Lamb is pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-fracking, and anti-Pelosi. He could be a Republican.
- Saccone, unlike his disgraced predecessor, is anti-union in a unions stronghold.
As with the Alabama Senate race, this Democratic victory proves that if one party has an infinitely more appealing candidate that isn’t an extremist, that party is likely to win. The “blue wave” posits a far-left slate of Democrats taking over Congress, not crypto-Republicans like Lamb. Never mind: CNN mentioned none of this. It was spinning like Linda Blair’s head in a gale.
Fox News, meanwhile, was spinning in the opposite direction. Lamb WAS a Republican, kind-of, really, said Steve Doocy. And since some polls had predicted that Lamb would win big, the narrow margin shows that President Trump’s campaigning for Saccone almost turned the election around. Anyway, the seat will only be Democratic until the end of this year, since the 18th is being re-gerrymandered by court order, and the Republicans will get another crack at it in November.
That last part is true, but it doesn’t mean that the loss is insignificant.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an objective, reliable news source that could give us balanced political analysis without reminding us of “The Exorcist?”
3. About those “inclusion riders.” How many Oscar watchers knew what Best Actress Frances McDormand meant when she endorsed “inclusion riders” in her acceptance speech? Inclusion riders are requirements in a star’s contract that a movie be staffed with a required number of women and minorities. It is, in essence, contractually-demanded discrimination. Of course, the goal is “diversity,” but the method requires hiring artists and workers according to their gender, ethnicity and color rather than qualifications, experience or talent.
Joanna Williams writes about them here. The concept is unethical.
4. Stephen Hawking, Ethics Hero. Stephen Hawking has died, about 55 years after he was diagnosed with ALS and told he had two years to live. In that time, he wrote books, made discoveries, hosted TV specials, enlightened us, and was a guest star on “The Simpsons.” The genius had financial resources most desperately ill people do not, but he still is a prime example of why one never should descend into despair while life remains. He made more of his diminished existance than most people do with their lives who are in the peak of health, and became the best argument yet against making euthanasia and assisted suicide societal norms.
It is easier to “keep buggering on” as Winston Churchill said, when one has no other choice.
5. Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up! If anyone can make sense out of this, please feel free to let me in on the secret.
Senator Elizabeth Warren told “Meet the Press” that she would never submit to a DNA test that could confirm her much-derided claim of Native American ancestry. Why not?
“I know who I am. And never used it for anything. Never got any benefit from it anywhere,” she said. Hmmm. She did, in fact, “use it,” listing herself as a minority when she was applying for teaching positions. Then Warren said,
“My mother and daddy were born and raised in Oklahoma. My daddy first saw my mother when they were both teenagers. He fell in love with this tall, quiet girl who played the piano. Head over heels. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American. They eventually eloped . . . That’s the story that my brothers and I all learned from our mom and our dad, from our grandparents. It’s a part of me and nobody’s going to take that part of me away.”
There are many translations of this obvious dodge, none of which are flattering to Warren, her honesty, her candor, or her integrity:
- “This is my truth.”
- That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!”
- “If I don’t know that what I say is false, nobody can accuse me of lying!”
- “Why should I care about facts? I’m a progressive!”
- And, of course, my late father’s favorite, “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up!”
Pointer (Inclusion riders): Advice Goddess Blog