Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/16/ 2018: The Fake Moussaka Edition

Gooood morning Pyongyang!

…and everyone else too, of course.

1. ” Winning.” How many in “the resistance” and the news media are rooting, secretly or openly, for the North Korean talks to fail? Based on the tone of some premature gloating on social media and news reports after North Korea threatened to pull out of talks, I think “many” is the fair answer. Other recent headlines and news stories also point in this direction, like “Improving Economy A Problem For Democrats.” (No, an improving economy is not a problem for any Americans, unless they care about their own power more than their country.)

This is especially revolting ( and hypocritical) from the same people who 1)  falsely attributed Rush Limbaugh’s indefensible statement in 2008 that he wanted Obama to fail to the entire Republican Party (I condemned Limbaugh’s statement at the time) and 2) used it to feed the narrative that conservatives who opposed that Presidents left-ward policies were doing so out of personal and racial antipathy.

A President’s success–as in “being proved correct” or “getting lucky,” it doesn’t matter which— makes it more likely that policies you don’t like will be continued? Suck it up and cheer like the good citizen you are. His accomplishments make it less likely that your favorite politician will get elected? Cry me a river: your duty is to care about your nation and fellow citizens first. That you are on record that—okay, still think that—this Presdent has crap for brains and you wouldn’t shake his hand without gloves makes you look less wise and prescient than you would have if he fell flat on his face? Cue the world’s smallest violin, have some integrity, and grow the hell up.

2. Ken Burns ethics, and FDR. In this post earlier this year, I scored documentary whiz Ken Burns for the hagiography of Franklin Roosevelt that marred his otherwise superb “The Roosevelts.”  “The smoking gun for me,” I wrote, “is that despite ten and half hours, Burns somehow never found time to highlight FDR’s internment of American citizens solely because they were of Japanese ancestry. The civil rights outrage is only alluded to in passing, as part of a list from a biographer preceding the nostrum, ‘All great leaders make mistakes.’” That critique stands, but it is slightly unfair, I subsequently discovered. Burns covered the internment of Japanese Americans extensively in an earlier, also excellent, PBS series, 2007′ s “The War.”  Even that section, however, avoided laying proper accountability for the debacle at President Roosevelt’s feet.  I watched the documentary over the past two days, and the deceit is really extraordinary.  The narration keeps referring to Executive Order 9066, without specifically saying whose order it was, like the thing appeared on its own. Here, Ken, let me fix this for you:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the imprisonment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan in concentration camps (“internment” is a euphemism and a cover word, like “pro-choice”) with towers and guards with loaded rifles. Though some German-Americans and Italian-Americans were imprisoned as well, far fewer were taken. The risk they posed was not considered as great, because they were white.’

Executive Order 9066 wasn’t rescinded, incredibly, until February 19, 1976, by President Ford. The Supreme Court decision upholding the order, Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944),has never been overturned. In that case’s 6–3 decision approving the abrogation of American citizen rights with fear as the justification, six of FDR’s eight appointees—you know, the liberals—  sided with Roosevelt, and against the Bill of Rights.

It is incomprehensible to me that whatever else he accomplished, and Roosevelt can fairly be credited with saving the nation and the world itself, this epic and unequaled civil rights outrage is brushed off by historians who designate him one of our three greatest Presidents, and Democrats, who almost unanimously rate him as the party’s best.

3. And speaking of conduct that should disqualify someone for high professional honors…Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners second baseman and superstar, was suspended yesterday for 80 games after tests revealed that he has used a banned substance, in his case, a diuretic typically employed by steroid cheats to flush out Performance Enhancing Drugs and avoid detection. Cano would have been elected to the Hall of Fame if he dropped dead  last week. Unfortunately this week he is a cheat, and per se ineligible due to the Hall’s character clause. Baseball only honors sports heroes, at least in their baseball-related activities.

Cano issued a carefully (lawyer) crafted statement that is further proof of his character deficits. [I’ll add my comments in brackets and bold.] It read,

Recently I learned that I tested positive for a substance called Furosemide, which is not a performance-enhancing substance. [No, but it is a banned substance. Every player is issued a list of banned substances, and to ignore them is proof of dementia. Cano is not stupid. His agent, if nobody else, must have made sure he was aware of the list. Cano is misleading his fans.] Furosemide is used to treat various medical conditions in the United States and Dominican Republic. [ Irrelevant. So is testosterone, and Human Growth Hormone. The issue isn’t whether a banned substance has legitimate uses. Most of them do.] This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment. [ Sure, Robby.] While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful. [Translation: “If I were more careful, I wouldn’t have been caught.”]

For more than 15 years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor of my life. I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one. [He’s lying, and virtue signaling to duck accountability, because]

Today I decided to accept MLB’s suspension. [ Why? If he’s innocent, why would he do that? MLB would not suspend him for the use of this drug unless its investigation concluded that Cano used it for illicit purposes, not legitimate medical ones. If Cano is telling the truth, and has a medical condition that Furosemide actually addresses and his doctor confirms that he administered the treatment, Cano would have a strong case for appeal.  Instead, he decided to accept the suspension, probably wreck his team’s chances to contend this year, ruin his reputation, torpedo his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame, and forfeit more than ten million dollars.] This was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life, but ultimately the right decision given that I do not dispute that I was given this substance. [‘and also because I’m guilty of cheating, and can’t prove otherwise.’] I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization. [Is misleading them now included in that apology?] I am extremely grateful for the support I have received during this process, and I look forward to rejoining my teammates later this season.


4. Restaurant ethics. Yesterday we ordered dinner to be delivered from a new Middle East restaurant. (I am exercising restraint by not mentioning the name.) My wife ordered moussaka, the classic Greek dish that is made with ground beef, eggplant (or potato, but that’s cheating), some optional ingredients, and a special white sauce. It is sometimes called “Greek lasagna,” and looks like this, if you have never had it:

It is hard to make, much harder than lasagna, and is relatively rare to find on menus. However, there is no disagreement that it is a casserole. When our order arrived, no moussaka, or anything remotely similar, was included. Assuming that the item had been left out, we called the establishment. My wife described what we had ordered and what had arrived, including some mysterious, chili-like stuff in a styrofoam cup, It was somewhere between a dip and a stew. There might have been eggplant in it. “That’s the moussaka!” she was told. “What?” my wife said.  “That’s our recipe, ma’am.”

I encountered this response once before, at an airport Japanese carryout, at which my “shrimp tempura” had no tempura whatsoever. “That’s our shrimp tempura, sir!”

Oh, really? So if “your” apple pie is made with Ritz crackers, it’s still OK to call it “apple pie”? If “your” fried chicken is really fried skunk, that’s fine?

5. To summarize…that restaurant’s moussaka is to real moussaka as..

  • Citizens taking glee in the President’s policy failures are to patriotic Americans.
  • FDR is to a legitimate progressive icon
  • Robby Cano is to an admirable baseball player.


64 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/16/ 2018: The Fake Moussaka Edition

  1. 1) I wonder how much overlap there is between the people gleeful over the likely implosion of NK & SK relations* and the people who are siding WITH Iran, AGAINST Israel…?

    I wonder why so many people, in their disdain for one sitting President, support our enemies?

    Does this make any sense? I mean…when I make sense of it, it only paints a very very dark picture of those people…

    *I never once expected anything to actually come from the supposed recent “warmness” of the North Koreans. I figured it to be more of their own propagandistic maneuverings. So if anything positive does somehow come of it, I’ll still be pleasantly surprised.

  2. Speaking of moussaka; I had the best moussaka I’ve ever eaten in my life (I’m a real fan) at a closing night cast party pot luck dinner. Come to think of it, I never did get the recipe from the lady who made it – bummer!

  3. David Gergen once said that those who dislike and criticize this nation, particularly blacks who don’t celebrate July 4 because they are still bitter about their history aren’t unpatriotic, they just practice “a different form of patriotism.” He also said that Jeremiah Wright might well love this country more than conventional patriots, but just believe we have fallen short of our ideals. The concept of “matriotism,” a sort of pacifistic yin to patriotism’s yang, was floated for a while, but never really caught on.

    The fact of the matter is that a lot of us on the right loathed Obama and loathed his policies, but we never let that turn into us hating our own country, and we never stood against our own servicemen, even when Clinton wasted our efforts in the Balkans and Obama led from behind to topple Gadaffi…without a clue of what to do afterwards. We (except a few crackpots) also never talked of taking up arms against our own elected officials, nor rioting. Guess who put mobs in the street before the War on Terror and rioted the day Trump was sworn in, the duly elected president? Hint: it wasn’t the right.

    The fact of the matter is that the left is a strange mix of the ultra-violent (the Black Panthers, antifa) and the ultra-disloyal (the National Lawyers’ Guild, the Peace and Freedom Party) held together by a few charismatic folks who want ultimate power and don’t give a damn how they get it. The only problem is that the right is in the way, and after Vietnam the right has pretty much a lock on the flag and conventional patriotism, which the average Joe still reveres. Like it or not, Donald Trump has become identified with the flag, strong law enforcement, a strong military, and other conventional symbols of pride in this nation. That’s still pretty powerful. Worse still, under Trump the economy is doing better, people have more money in their paychecks, and overall things seem to be looking back up after years of looking down.

    This isn’t a recipe for the all-important Blue Wave the left is hoping for this fall so it can return to absolute power. So they attack the idea of patriotism as jingoistic and fit only for beer-drinking, camo-wearing, unsophisticates with bad teeth. They attack the idea of a strong military as the US bullying the rest of the world and taking out children with ugly weapons. They attack law enforcement as bullies with badges who hunt young black men for a hobby. They attack success itself as coming at the expense of the deserving. They play on guilt, they play on shame, they play on blame. Of course they aren’t patriots. Patriots believe in their country, no matter who’s in power, the left only believes in their country if they are in power. If someone else is, not so much.

    FDR definitely could have done better with the internments, but he didn’t. The question is, if you deem that enough to take him out of the top 3 presidents, with Washington and Lincoln, who takes that third spot? Or is the idea of ranking the presidents kind of passe’?

    Cano deserves what he got.

    Sounds like this place failed you, and you should cross them off your list of places to order from.

    • 1. Great commentary, and another Comment of the Day. Yes, I’m way behind.
      2. Yes, the combination of the racist breach of citizen rights, the negligence/anti-Semitism regarding the Holocaust (Burns said that it was a “secret”), handing over Eastern Europe to Stalin and running for a 4th term knowing he was dying should drop him many slots, behind Jackson, Teddy, Reagan and Ike.
      3. The question is, will he deserve what he gets?
      4. Ya think???

      • The problem with your dropping him out of the top three is that it would make Andy J the top ranking Democrat, and the party won’t stand for that, especially not in this era of renaming Jefferson-Jackson dinners. Not only that, but the other three contenders there are all (gasp) Republicans! That can’t be, Reagan’s the only contender from the 20th Century, and he was senile. What about Bill Clinton and his tremendous economy and advancement of women’s rights? What about Truman and the Cold War? What about the martyred JFK? What about LBJ and civil rights?

        • Just a minor correction, Steve. Reagan was not senile, he had Alzheimer’s. Totally different. He also had Nancy, which is yet another disease.

          • I’m well aware of that, as I’ve posted elsewhere. Senility is the typical accusation thrown around by the left. I’ll refrain from comment on Nancy.

    • …the top 3 presidents, with Washington and Lincoln, who takes that third spot?

      If we are counting results, how about Reagan? The fall of the evil empire fixed FDR’s little sellout of Eastern Europe, and a lot of other peoples.

      We could have a post on this topic alone, as ranking of POTUS is an interesting discussion, and I believe would require tight development of requirements to evolve a list. Someone who liked the social safety net would place Johnson high, for instance, which I would not.

    • To paraphrase the Geico commercials: “Rooting against America: if you are progressive, it is what you do”

      At least in my entire lifetime, which stretches back to when they called themselves ‘liberals’ even though they weren’t.

      • My theory is that lefties have father issues. They despise any sort of authority and spend their lives rebelling against any and every thing they consider authoritative. Thus, the enemy of the U.S. becomes their friend. U.S. authoritative. U.S. bad. It assuages their anger at Dad.

    • Rick M. wrote, “1. Rooting against peace in NK and Israel seems to be in the progressive playbook. Hate Trump even at a national cost. Amazing!”

      To those consumed by their anti-Trump hate, all things are fair game and any consequences of trying to remove President Trump and stopping or reversing his policies is acceptable collateral damage.

      Furthermore; those who are consumed by their anti-Trump hate will not even consider possible consequences until those consequences directly effect them and then they will just blame those consequences on President Trump.

      When a group of people are as morally bankrupt as the anti-Trump resistance is, anything they say or do is considered a win-win for their movement and therefore for their psyche.

      The ends justify the means.

  4. “A President’s success–as in ‘being proved correct” or ‘getting lucky,’ it doesn’t matter which— makes it more likely that policies you don’t like will be continued? Suck it up and cheer like the good citizen you are.”

    Policies matter. The President is not the country. Don’t be a toady.

    • Policy does matter…

      But if *a* policy works…in that it doesn’t abridge American liberty and has all the results it claimed it would and none of the bad effects it’s opponents claimed, then yes, opponents should cheer it on as good patriots.

      Had the ACA proven a resounding success instead of the abject failure it turned out to be and not eaten away at the margins of liberty, Republicans would have been patriotically obligated to cheer that success.

    • Non sequitur. The President gets credit when policies work, blame when they don’t. The country doesn’t govern itself. If policies matter, then the policy of not being afraid to end bad ones if they are bad enough is a no-brainer.

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