Good morning, and I mean it this time…!
1. My only Red Sox-related note: One reason I know that the news media can’t be trusted is that when I have first hand knowledge of a topic or event reported in the paper, I often find the reporting lazily, inexplicably, factually wrong. Here’s a trivial but illustrative example: this amazing play (It’s at 1:04 on the video) ended last night’s decisive Boston 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series:
Here’s how the Times described it:
“Kimbrel then got Gleyber Torres to hit a dribbler to third. Eduardo Nunez, a former Yankee, gathered it and threw slightly wide of first base, but another former Yankee, Steve Pearce, stretched to glove it an instant before Torres touched the bag.”
What? “Slightly wide”? A millimeter wider and the ball would have been in the dugout! If journalists can’t get little things right, why should be trust them to convey the important stuff?
2. Institutional incompetence The historical airbrushing continues. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Washington and Lee University has decided to make changes to the names of some campus buildings after concerns from students and faculty.
On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees announced that it will rename Robinson Hall as Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from Washington Academy, the predecessor of W&L, in 1799. Also, Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson Hall in honor of Pamela Hemenway Simpson, who served as an associate dean of the college and helped move to a co-ed environment in the 1980s.
The board also announced that effective immediately, it will replace portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms inside Lee Chapel with portraits of the two men in civilian clothing.
An educational institution that thinks it is appropriate to airbrush its own history can’t be trusted to teach anyone. Robinson Hall is named after the man who established the college, John Robinson. Yup, he was a slaveholder, but he established the school, and deserves prominent recognition for that. The decision to strip Washington and Lee of their uniforms is particularly ominous, hinting of several obnoxious biases. Soldiers are taboo now? Or is this a strike against “toxic masculinity”? If the idea is to pretend that Robert E. Lee is only notable for his post-military career as president of the university, that’s absurd and dishonest: if Lee had never worn the Confederate uniform, he would never have led the school, and nobody would know who he was today. Washington’s military brilliance supersedes his civilian achievements in significance and historical impact, for without General Washington there would be no United States of America.
My position is that it is negligent for parents to entrust their children’s minds to stupid people and incompetent schools. Washington and Lee and its administrators now qualify for that category.
3. Political incompetence and the rapid pig crisis. After he voted against confirming Brett Kavanaugh, Montana Senator Jon Tester found himself downs graded to a”D” by the National Rifle Association. Matt Rosenberg, his Republican opponent, tweeted the news, so Chris Meagher, Tester’s crack communications director, tweeted out this rejoinder:
I’d say Tester has to fire the guy fast, and will lose votes for each minute he hesitates. Both the NRA and Rosenberg supporters are flooding societal media with “Jon Tester, cow assassin” memes and jokes. What in the world was Meagher thinking? (Pointer: Twitchy)
4.#MeToo incompetence. We have discussed this before: the creation of a sick system in which woman possess the power to destroy men in the workplace and elsewhere with accusations of sexual misconduct that “must be believed” risks creating an environment where women will not be trusted, and men will be wary of routine workplace interactions. The Society of Human Resource Management (Disclosure: I did an ethics program for them) reports that one year after the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck left the station, it sees “executives going as far as to not invite female colleagues on trips, to evening networking events or into their inner circles to avoid any situation that could be perceived incorrectly, thus reducing the opportunity for women.” Of course that’s a common reaction, and I don’t blame them.
Good job, everybody!
5. I can’t let THIS pass…I’ve been meaning for several days to register an ethics retch regarding Senator Murkowski’s official statement regarding her “no” vote on Kavanaugh. Here it is:
I did not come to a decision on this until walking onto the floor this morning. I have been wrestling to really try to know what is fair and what is right, and the truth is, that none of this has been fair.
This hasn’t been fair to the judge, but I also recognize that we need to have institutions that are viewed as fair and if people who are victims, people who feel that there is no fairness in our system of government, particularly in our courts, then you’ve gone down a path that is not good and right for this country. And so I have been wrestling with whether or not this was about qualifications of a good man or is this bigger than the nomination.
And I believe we’re dealing with issues right now that are bigger than the nominee and how we ensure fairness and how our legislative and judicial branch can continue to be respected. This is what I have been wrestling with, and so I made the — took the very difficult vote that I did.
I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s a good man. It just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time. So I have taken my vote here this morning, I’m going to go back to my office and write a floor statement that is more fulsome and have the opportunity to have that.
But this has truly been the most difficult evaluation of a decision that I have ever had to make, and I’ve made some interesting ones in my career. But I value and respect where my colleagues have come down from in their support for the judge, and I think we’re at a place where we need to begin thinking about the credibility and integrity of our institutions.
- If you can’t make an important decision on a matter that has been going on for months, then you are incapable of competent decision-making, and shouldn’t be a Senator. The translation of her opening could be, “I flipped a coin.”
- “This hasn’t been fair to the judge, but I also recognize that we need to have institutions that are viewed as fair and if people who are victims, people who feel that there is no fairness in our system of government, particularly in our courts, then you’ve gone down a path that is not good and right for this country.” Authentic Frontier Gibberish! How is an institution going to be viewed as fair by being unfair, unless the viewers don’t know what fair is? When people “feel” the government is unfair, that means we have gone down the wrong path, even if their feeling is illogical and unjustified? People feel it is unfair that blacks haven’t been paid trillions in reparations. People feel it is unfair that the popular vote didn’t make Hillary President. So what? How did anyone this inarticulate and lame-brained get to be a Senator anyway? Oh, right! Her father appointed her!
- “I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s a good man. It just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time.” Huh? What does THAT mean? If he’s a good man and nobody doubts he is qualified, then he should be confirmed. Democrats claimed that he was not a good man, indeed either a sexual predator, or an unstable man filled with rage. If you don’t believe that, why are you voting against him, Senator?
- “It was a difficult decision” is always a cowardly way to announce anything. It is an attempt to pre-emptively establish a defense to claims that a decision was wrong, as if that’s a mitigation. “But the decision was so hard!” I don’t care, you’re still accountable.
Today I will add “Murkowski’s Lament” to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List.